I love chocolate.  Good quality, organic, dark chocolate.   It’s one of the primary examples in my nervous system of a rich and sensual life.

I think it’s important for entrepreneurs to have embodied reference points for the good life.  If we’re connected on social media, you’ve probably noticed this.  🙂

Smart and connected colleagues are one of the best ways I know to ensure FUN and ease in your business.  Being able to pick up the phone or send an email to leaders in your sector is a game changer.  However, since many spiritual entrepreneurs are more oriented to inner work than connecting with new people, professional networking can be a real challenge …

Conscious Networking Changes You (and the World)

Nothing liberates your greatness like the desire to help, the desire to serve.  ~ Marianne Williamson

Early on for me, professional networking sucked.  I hated it.

I was trying to connect at traditional networking venues with conservative business owners (accountants, restaurant owners, car dealers, etc) in a small city.  My enthusiasm about mindfulness and wisdom and how they can help business people went over like snow cones on a winter’s day in Chicago …

Fast forward 6 years.  Today, I met with 2 people for professional networking.  Both of them are smart and passionate entrepreneurs who practice mindfulness regularly.  We spoke for hours.  I had a blast!

Bob Littell is the founder of Netweavers.com.   He describes Netweaving as “love based networking”.   He says that when we learn how to be skillful at connecting others with the relationships and resources that help their desires come true, two things happen:

  1. We get a “helpers high” (Yep, better than chocolate 🙂 ) and
  2. People wind up connecting us with what we need to manifest our desires.

Here’s how skillful networker Bob Berg, author of The Go Giver, explains it:

Position yourself as a center of influence, the one who knows the movers and shakers. People will respond to that, and you’ll soon become what you project.

10 Tips to Make Professional Networking More Fun

Find the Quirky Ones.  One of the things I’ve learned is that professional networking with boring people is NOT fun.  (Sometimes I’m a slow learner.)  So look for people who dress a little wild, use colorful language or have a website that’s got personality.

One On One is FUN.  There is a bias in many business communities towards groups (Susan Cain describes this elegantly).   You don’t have to play by those rules.  If 1:1 is more your style, embrace it!  This comprises the majority of my professional networking.

Practice mindfulness.  Take a moment before you jump in the car or get on Skype to center yourself with a few mindful breaths.  The state of your nervous system matters. Profoundly.

Volunteer.  When you’re new, it can be hard to find a way “in” to an existing community.  So what if you volunteer to work an event for that community? Skip the awkwardness and meet people while setting up chairs or helping the organizers.

Leverage Social Media.  One of the beautiful things about social media and newsletters is that you start to get to know someone BEFORE you ever have a conversation.  In the social media world, we call this “social listening”.   It sets you up for success.

Skip business cards.  I’ve found business cards – which often get lost – less effective in today’s professional networking.  Instead, I suggest you email contact information in real time.  I also usually do my follow up contact before leaving the meeting venue.

Be Intentional.  Don’t try to meet everyone!  Find where the people who share your interests and passions hang out both online and off.  Prioritize interacting with those people and their networks.

Listen.  And then listen more.  Nothing says “you don’t want me in your network” more than someone who does all the talking.  Ask open ended questions.  Let your curiosity lead.

Follow up.  If you say your going to do something – like make an introduction – then do it.  Being impeccable with your word will start your relationship in a positive manner.  It communicates: “I’m credible and reliable”.

Be Patient.  One of the fastest ways to slow down your success is to try and monetize your relationships too quickly.  Conscious business means seeing the big picture and having a longer term perspective.

What’s Your Experience?

It was a great day for professional networking in my business.  It might just be time for some chocolate …

No matter how experienced you get, some networking will fall flat.  I encourage you to keep your focus on the big picture.  Stay with your intention to keep connecting.  If you do, I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

What’s worked well for you when it comes to networking?  What questions do you have?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the form of a comment below!