Starting a new business is hard. Relying solely on your new business to support yourself is harder.
It seems like anyone who works the 9-5 will tell you " you just got to get out there", "you do great work how can they not want to hire you", "you should really network more". In which my reply is some variation of "shut your face".
Whoever invented the term "networking" and decided to use it in the sense of gathering a bunch of people, unknown to each other, and placing them in a room filled to the brim with discomfort and anxiety, should be hung for their crime. If you know me, you're probably thinking this rant is coming from my introverted tendencies to shy away from conversation and hide behind whoever I persuaded to tag along, but it's not. Truthfully this post comes with the best intentions.
The same time I took my full time leap, I also took the summer off. It was the first summer I've been able to thoroughly enjoy and decided taking advantage of every beach day and ice cream cone that crossed my path was a priority. Now that the cold has crept in, and I've already weighed my options to turn into a barista (last melt down of a post), I'm diving in hard. I want to meet people who have passion, purpose, and truly need my help. So how do I find those people? Well it's not networking. It's in these three steps:
Finding a group with purpose isn't hard. Everyone is passionate about something. If you want to take the easy way in, start working with non-profits. Every single non-profit I've volunteered for, I'm now working for. Now the pay is what you'd expect but the people that support non-profits…now there's some business. Just do good work, and do it 100% each time. Word gets out and soon you're on the Board of Directors for an emerging non-profit while taking 8am meetings to fit in all the new clients.
Now I can't speak on everyone's behalf, but on the tech side as far as websites and social media management go, people are really starting to take a vested interest, AND valuing those who can perform in the industry! The people who value you and your work are more likely to refer you. Say what!? I know breaking news. Seriously though, if you're working with someone who doesn't want to pay you for your services, or is always trying to nickle and dime you and cut corners. THEY. ARE. NOT. WORTH. IT.
Give yourself away. Give the best parts of yourself to the lowest people. Give your talents to those who need it, even though they might not deserve it. Give your early mornings and late nights. Give everything you have. It's the only way you'll be able to build yourself up. For those who haven't gone through this phase, you're are probably thinking I'm incredibly insane and unfollowing me from every social account known to man (it's ok you're probably not my kind anyway). To those of you who have gone through this, high-five for making it to the other side. To those currently in the trenches, you got this - I swear to you there is light at the end.
So what does this have to do with Networking with Intention? Find those who have purpose, and are willing to give you purpose. They're the businesses that have strong values and will not only give credit where credit is due, but support your values. Give to those who need you, they'll refer you later to some incredible people you wouldn't have met otherwise. But most of all give 100% every time, all the time. Now look around you, that's your network. Your tribe. Your business.