I’ve shared in a previous journal entry that I am extremely independent. It’s an admirable characteristic, but for me, it’s an excuse to hide. Honestly, this just recently came to light while writing my book.
I always used the “I’m an introvert” excuse to limit my exposure to people. If you look up the definition of an introvert, I’m definitely that. But the reality is, I can’t be a secret and a success.I can’t be hiding and think I can create a massive impact. So, I’m stretching myself and participating in a few networking groups.
Back in 2010, when I moved to Arizona, I did a lot of networking for the first six months. I only knew one person in the state, and she lived over 200 miles away. It took every dime we had to make the move across the country. So, there I was, broke, starting over, and knew no one. I had to network.
This was my strategy.
- Look up networking groups in the area that I could attend as a guest for free.
- I looked up as many of the members as I could so I knew who I wanted to meet once I attended the meeting.
- At the meeting, I had one goal – introducing myself to the people on my “hit list.” These people were the movers and shakers in the community. They were active and had connections. Here’s how I introduced myself, “Hi, I’m Misty, and I’m new to the area. I came to this meeting today because I wanted to meet you. I was wondering if you’d be willing to have coffee with me?” They always said yes.
- During our coffee session, I’d make the meeting all about them. I’d ask them all kinds of questions like:
- How long have they been in Arizona?
- What did they love most about the state?
- What were their favorite restaurants?
- How long were they in business?
- Why did they start their business?
- What did they do to serve clients?
- What did they love about their business?
- You get the point…I did a deep dive.
- Once I returned to my office, I wrote them a handwritten note and sent it to them by snail mail. No one does this, so it stands out. I also sent them an email. It was the easiest way to thank them immediately after our meeting. Then I found them on Facebook and sent a friend request. Once they accepted the request, I sent them what I call a “Shout Out.” A message that publicly shared that I loved meeting with them and how it was easy to see what a great [fill in the compliment] they were. This lifted them up publicly and gave them exposure to my connections, and it also allowed me to get in front of their people. It’s (oddly) so rare that someone says something nice on social platforms that when it does happen, people notice.
- In the following months, I would engage with their social media posts by liking, commenting, and sharing them. Letting them (indirectly) know that our ongoing relationship is important to me and that I wanted to support them going forward as well.
Why am I sharing this with you? I was reminded today in an online networking group how powerful this strategy was/is. For some reason, I stopped doing it when my business and life got busy. But it works.
I’ll speak for myself here, but I think a lot of entrepreneurs have fallen into the “everything has to scale” thinking, and we’ve missed the point of marketing – which is building relationships. I’ve totally bought into the idea of “scaling” and “reaching the masses.” These concepts are great. However, creating and engaging in meaningful relationships gives you the best return for your effort, not just in business but in life as well.
The personal touch, the sincerity in a conversation, the time taken to really understand someone – these elements are irreplaceable. They cannot be automated or scaled, but their impact can be immeasurable. This realization was a wake-up call for me. In the rush to grow and expand my business, I had inadvertently left behind the very essence of what makes growth meaningful: genuine human connection.
Reflecting on this, I’ve decided to reinstate this practice in my daily routine, not just as a business strategy but as a personal commitment to nurturing relationships. I plan to dedicate time each day to reach out to new contacts, to check in with old ones, and to be present in these interactions. It’s not about the quantity of connections but the quality that truly counts.
In a world increasingly dominated by digital interactions, the human element often gets lost. We’re bombarded with messages, emails, and notifications, but how often do we engage in a conversation that goes beyond the superficial? I’ve come to realize that the most rewarding moments in my life and career have been those deep, authentic interactions with others.
So, my goal moving forward is simple: to be intentional in creating meaningful connections.
Adding this to my tracking sheet right now to keep me accountable.