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Networking Tips – How to Make it Less Painful & More Beneficial!

Our friend Amy of Hub Digital Marketing is away on vacation this week, so The Hive queen bee Tuni filled in on Amy’s weekly newsletter & blog with some networking tips! 

I know many of you out there HATE the thought of having to network.  I bet some of you might have even gotten to the door of an event and literally turned around and headed back home?  I’m also willing to bet there are some of you out there, like me, that actually look forward to networking events?  Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or even an ambivert – that’s actually a thing, ambivalent are those who fall relatively in the middle of being introverted and extroverted, it’s almost like being ambidextrous, but with your personality…whatever your personality type, we can all probably agree that networking to grow your business (or professional career) is important.   We’re here to give you some simple tips on how to make it less painful (for those of you that dread it) and more beneficial (for all).  Your time, money and energy are valuable – networking can and should be both fun and provide a solid ROI at the same time!

Let’s start at the beginning, peel back the layers of this onion and get right to the heart of the topic…what does networking really mean?  One definition of networking that is perfect in this context is: to interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career. Pretty simple right?

Go away pain…

If you’re the type of person that is painfully shy, just isn’t super comfortable being in groups of people, or maybe you might find the mere thought of going to a networking event causes you anxiety – here are a few tips on how to alleviate the stress:

1. The Buddy System – How about finding someone to go with?  You might be able to find a colleague, a coworker, a friend or even an employee to tag along with you!
2. S.O.S .  Ask for Help- Talk to the organizer, director, or someone involved with the event – let them know that you see the potential value in attending their event but be honest about your stress. You are not alone, they’ll understand and they’ll probably be more than happy to help!  They might connect you with one of their veteran members or an ambassador in their organization that can introduce you around and sort of stay with you.
3. Practice Relaxation Techniques – Whether you’re skilled at mindfulness practices like breathing techniques or meditation (you can easily search for tips on these) or maybe you just need a glass of wine…find something that helps you relax a bit!  I know some great networkers that are comfortable around people and even enjoy events like this but we’re all human and sometimes we’re wound a little tight…even the best of us can benefit by having some tools in our toolbox to help us relax and ease into an event!

Time is money, make it count…

Now for our top 5 tried & true tips on how to use networking to grow your business (or career):

1. Find Your Tribe – The first thing to be mindful of, and something I often recommend to colleagues or clients, is to ‘find your tribe’.  I often suggest that it’s best to try before you buy – identify different organizations that might make sense to join and/or to get involved with then see what kinds of events are available for you to attend.  Go visit, make sure the people that attend seem like the type of people you can see yourself fitting in with, the events are run in a way that works for your personality and you can see that the investment might provide a return on investment.
2. Show Up – It’s more than just signing up for an event and physically being there.  When you’ve invested the time, money and energy to attend…you need to really be present, open and ready to make connections.
3. Be Authentic – I can’t stress this one enough!  Don’t be ‘that person’ that shows up to take 10 business cards and give 10 business cards…yucko!  We’re all people and I guarantee that if you’re authentic and open, you’ll make some pretty cool connections that turn into lasting relationships.  Most people are interesting if you take the time to listen – ask questions and be curious!
Not Everything is Black & White – Something that I believe wholeheartedly to be true is that not everything is a straight line!  For instance, you might meet me at an event and just because I might not need your service doesn’t mean I don’t know someone who does or will in the future…
4. Follow Up – You’ve identified different groups and picked events to attend.  You’ve attended, been present, authentic, curious, and you’ve made some great new connections…now what?  Follow up!  We are all different and all have different time management algorithms, habits and so on, right?  What works for me might not work the best for you but there is a basic routine you can follow then tweak along the way.  Let’s say you get home from an event, you’re energized and you’ve met 5 people that you’d like to stay connected with in hopes that it’ll develop into a lasting relationship of some sort?  Maybe you’ll become referral resources for each other or maybe it’s a great potential client for you?  Whatever the scenario, here are a few basic tips on follow-up:

5. Enter contact info into your database(s).
– Do a little social research – follow, like or connect!
– Send an email/note – I like to send an email that night or within a couple days myself letting them know ‘why’ I enjoyed meeting them (or seeing them again) and might suggest we meet for coffee, a business meeting, etc…to continue the conversation ?
– Then stay in front of them with email campaigns, social shares/likes/favorites or retweets.

I try to go to any event with the mindset that I’ll probably run into someone that I maybe haven’t seen in awhile (yay) and that I’ll probably meet at least a couple/few people that I’ll authentically connect with – I know it also helps that I truly like people (most anyway) and find business in general fascinating.  I get that I might not be the norm, but I do know that many of these tips have helped dozens of friends and colleagues ease into networking and make it beneficial in their businesses.  I hope you’ll find a take-away here and that you’re future networking events are stress-free and bountiful!

Weekly BUZZ – Exercise at the Mill

Exercise at the Mill?
Yes, we will now be offering all kinds of exercise and wellness classes and ‘one on one’ sessions here at the mill down in Joanie’s old Lotus Fire Yoga space (she’s up on the main floor of the Rodman Bldg. now).  Check out our new Facebook page for ‘Pause…’ here.  We picked ‘Pause…’ as the name because that’s exactly what we’re hoping you’ll all do…take a 1/2 hour or more to just ‘pause’ and recharge your battery with a Kettlebell class or maybe some Pilates or Yoga.  It’s basically a ‘pop up’ for July and August and the hope is that a core group of the practitioners will take over and create a more permanent health, wellness & exercise space there. Check out the Facebook page for class times. Come on by!

Lunch & Learn:

We are taking a short break to line up a stellar new series of interesting & educational business development presentations for you all.  Richard Austin of Speaking of Success, the Hiver leading the Lunch & Learn program, is working on a Food Truck Thursday program to begin when we start up again…we are shooting for the beginning of August.  Stay tuned but in the meantime, check out his next Total Exposure Networking (T.E.N.) event here.  And, in lieu of our Lunch & Learn program, we’re hosting a great informational event here on Thursday, July 14th.  10,000 Small Businesses is a fantastic program designed by Babson College and hosted here in RI by CCRI.  Check out the invitation and share the event with any of your colleagues that you think might be interested. RSVPs may be sent to Tuni by July 11th at tuni@trsstrategies.com.

Community:

If you’ve been thinking about joining our community…now is the time as we are offering a really great special – sign a lease by 9/1 and get your first month’s rent FREE! Reach out to: tuni@trsstrategies.com or call 401-255-7413.  Here’s a list of available spaces open or opening up soon within the mill.  There’s a video on this page that shows the 3rd floor that will be ready in July…wait for it!

Blog:

The Mill at Lafayette blog this week really talks about what The Hive RI is all about.  It’s a repurposed article from 3 years ago that was featured in the RI Small Business Journal and that our Hiver, Amy Fields of Hub Digital Mktg. pushed out this week on her website/email.  It was written originally by me, Tuni Schartner/co-founder here at The Hive…it’s fun to read it now, to see how far we’ve come in 3 years but to also know we’re still hyper focused on building an organic sustainable community based economy here. We continue to grow and are home to so many dynamic and innovative companies and entrepreneurs!

Social Media:

Don’t forget to ‘like’ us on Facebook – we share information there on a daily basis!

Art:

Michelle Gradus Parenteau’s Soul Awakening Art Show is still up in The Hive’s space and if you missed the open house…have no fear!  We recommend self-guided tours anytime during regular coworking hours (Monday-Friday 9:00-5:00) and if you are interested in purchasing any artwork within our gallery – please email tuni@trsstrategies.com

Looking for a professional space to settle in and get some serious work done?  The Hive RI and the Mill at Lafayette have very affordable options, from open coworking space(s), to individual offices of differing sizes, to a private conference room, or you can even reserve the larger space(s) for your own events, presentations or workshops! 

Why We Believe in Cross-Pollination

TS-Consulting

This week, The Hive RI’s Queen Bee Tuni Schartner was a featured guest blogger on Hub Digital Marketing’s weekly blog & newsletter. Amy Levesque Fields of Hub Digital is a Hive coworker. She and Tuni, owner of TRS Strategies, both run their own boutique marketing firms but often partner on client projects. This is a perfect example of the shared service offerings that are a huge benefit of coworking!  

hub digital

Check out the original blog and more by Amy of Hub Digital Marketing here.

cross-pol·li·na·tion  [kraws-pol-uh-ney-shuhn, kros-]  noun

  1. Botany. the transfer of pollen from the flower of one plant to the flower of a plant having a different genetic constitution. Compare self-pollination.
  2. a sharing or interchange of knowledge, ideas, etc., as for mutual enrichment; cross-fertilization.

Well, clearly we’re relating to the latter definition here!

At The Hive, we have a mix of small business owners, writers, artists, technical folks, marketing professionals, remote sales people, entrepreneurs, scientists and many more. We respect everyone’s right to privacy, but offer the opportunity to share what it is that we do. The person working next to us might be able to design our logo or write our next press release, and conversely, we might be able to help them write their business plan, or handle their books!

The Hive was established with a mission to always encourage collaboration between members and so far, it’s working.  We’ve been (officially) open for 3 years and what has already happened here is pretty awesome!

We believe that a coworking environment in general, and The Hive specifically, is the perfect place to set up shop for a small business looking to grow organically. Coworking spaces are environments that promote positive energy and new ideas – innovation through collaboration. Your network of fellow coworkers provide a huge referral network, for your clients and colleagues when they need services your business can’t provide. Coworking spaces offer a network of professionals who you can throw ideas around with, discuss some of the newest trends with, and discover how you can bring innovation to your clients. As a collaborative work environment, there is always a small business owner around to help guide you through the difficult and sometimes confusing process of starting, or running, a business in Rhode Island.

Coworking is a relatively new concept for Rhode Islanders, but it’s a concept that encourages original thought, new ideas, and business development. It fosters independent growth in a heartening environment. It’s the right place for many to begin, or sometimes continue, their journey of business ownership.

Based in the historic Lafayette Mill complex in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, The Hive RI coworking space provides inexpensive working space, conference and meeting areas and professional amenities such as copy machines, printers as well as high speed internet. Local artists, businesspeople, lawyers, engineers and other professionals come together at The Hive to work independently, but not alone. The Hive is open from 9-5, Monday through Friday, welcomes walk-ins and offers affordable rates for daily, weekly and monthly use. The Hive hosts weekly lunchtime networking events and is also available for group events at non-working hours. Please visit http://www.thehiveri.com for more information on coworking, or www.millatlafayette.com for information on spaces available.