By Rachel Gogos
Making it Work – Networking
If you’ve gotten comfortable working from home in your PJ’s all day, or you’re too busy juggling Household, Inc. and your entrepreneurial venture or, perhaps you’ve just gotten plain old lazy about networking then this article is for you.
Getting out of the house, or the office, is a very important marketing tactic to promote your company, personal brand or product. Not because you’ll be a walking blinking billboard but because you’ll be out there, around others interacting, socializing and inevitably answering the question, “What do you do?”
It doesn’t matter if you’ve answered that question for the gardener, neighbor, mailman or nanny – you need to be answering it for people who can help grow your business either as a client, as a promoter or as a strategic partner. There’s also another side effect – the feeling of connection – whether business results or not – feeling connected to others in a similar industry, facing similar challenges can be reinvigorating and encouraging.
It’s no secret that I’m a work-from-home entrepreneur with two young children (3 and 5) and a husband who travels quite a bit for work so getting me out of my day-to-day routine, especially to travel to a conference, requires a sizable reorganization!
Below is a list of activities and or opportunities that have provided great networking, business and personal growth that are “on-brand” for me but also fit into my current life-style. Some might provide food for thought for those of you with similar responsibilities or limited budgets and can’t hit the conference circuit.
-Join online membership forums that are relevant to your industry or business. Over a year ago I joined Third Tribe Marketing (an online marketing and business building network started by Chris Brogan, et al). I use it to identify qualified and quality strategic partners, ask and share business advice, keep up-to-date on the latest online marketing tools, and much, much more.
-Travel to conferences / events that I can reach by driving and the kids can enjoy too. Last week I traveled to Buffalo, NY where my family lives, dropped off the kids with grandma and grandpa while I attended the Women in Leadership or Business Conference hosted by Ildi Wiley right over the boarder on Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario. Besides the learning and networking I was able to meet fellow personal brand strat, YOUnique columnist, and, until then a phone/email friend, Paul Copcutt. Also reconnected with another fellow personal brand strategist and dear friend Valerie Sokolosky. I also was able to see Paul and Valerie in action presenting on my favorite topic – personal branding!
-Start your own local networking group. Check out Meetup.com and you can learn about lots of groups taking place in your area. You may find something interesting going on elsewhere in the country that doesn’t exist in your hometown. Contact the out of town network and offer to host or establish your own local group. I started the Pittsburgh chapter of the Momtreprneur Exchange because the founder of that organization connected with me on Twitter.
-Stay connected to organizations, activities, schools, companies you have worked at or attended from. Alumni organizations can be a great way to network. Besides the Reach community where I earned a personal-branding certification I stay in touch with New York University as an alum and the University of Massachusetts in Boston where I was a Fellow in a yearlong leadership program. All three provide access to amazing people.
-Attend local events of interest. Earlier this week I attended an event by author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka who flew in from Minnesota to talk to parents and educators about raising spirited children. : )
-Get involved in fundraising for causes you believe in. Sit on boards, organize fundraisers, or attend local fundraising events. I’ve met lots of great people this way and there is the added benefit of feeling good about giving back to your community.
I hope this list helps you think of out-of-the-box opportunities to combine your work life with your life-style.
Rachel Gogos is a personal brand builder that specializes in building strong and noticeable online identities and highly differentiated WordPress blog sites.