BUILDING YOUR TRIBE
How To Make Networking Fun & Effective
By Shana Lynn Yao
Networking. The word itself gives me the heebie jeebies. It makes me think of the stuffy rooms I used to have to go to in my corporate life, the men dressed in uncomfortable looking suits trying to get seen, women in high heels and "power suits" and me, feeling like a fish out of water in my NOT-corporate looking outfit and introverted self.
But those days are long gone. As an entrepreneur and now being the CEO of my own business and life, while it is now my job to do things that grow my own network, it is my choice just how I do that.
In fact, now with tools like Meetup and the internet, no longer are business owners forced to go to stuffy rooms where we don't fit in. Unfortunately, because of the sheer numbers and temptation of trying to attract large numbers of people, many entrepreneurs get stuck in the online world of Facebook groups and focusing on quantity, rather than what really matters in the end, which is quality.
Just the mere idea of herds of people liking your posts and joining your group, is enough to make some people squeal. But smart business owners know that numbers mean nothing unless they wind up in your bank account.
The Human Factor
As a somewhat introverted person, it's easy to get somewhat lazy and bury my head in my laptop. But at a certain point I realized that the internet - while it is supposed to help you build connections - had made me lose connection to my own self.
So maybe you are like me - you love your clients and your online friends - but maybe you feel like there is a lit piece of you missing.
The good news is, I think I found it. I think I found why so many feel DISconnected these days. It's called HUMAN CONNECTION.
As it turns out, research and science has proven that (haha) as humans - we actually NEED human connection. Studies show that there is a psychological value to having a sense of spirituality and belonging - and it actually eases and removes stress and depression. Those that have a source of human bonding with like minded people are consistently happier than those who do not build relationships.
In fact, the study further states that people who live in walkable neighborhoods tend to build “social capital” – they are more likely to meet people, build relationships, and again, are happier.
Human connection brings complex values to our lives. The feeling of belonging gives us a sense of identity in contrast to others in that group and it offers an almost therapeutic-support system - which makes us feel less lonely. We learn from others’ experiences and insight and we learn together in new experiences.
Quality Over Quantity
So back to networking. Since we know it is our job to build our tribe and grow our network, and knowing that human connection is important, it becomes even increasingly more important to get OFFLINE to build actual real connections.
For me, when I noticed this feeling of DISconnection within myself, I decided to take action. I had held meetups before (if you know me you may remember "Bark In The Park" where I invited Los Angeles business owners to come out to Los Angeles County Museum of Art for some drinks, the free concerts in the park, and well, bring their dog.
But being somewhat introverted and a bit of a workaholic, doing activities outside of "actual business" seemed like a bit of a chore. Until I made a decision for myself - one that you may want to make for yourself if you feel any sense of this disconnection within you.
After noticing this unsettled feeling inside of me - I suddenly woke up. I suddenly woke up and realized my life was my responsibility. That the QUALITY of my life since starting my business - the human connection I once had before my head was buried in my laptop all day everyday, was missing. And that in the end, being an entrepreneur - even just having a job - the purpose of life is to LIVE IT. To be present to the life you are living now - because how you spend your days is actually, and becomes how you spend your LIFE.
Build Your Local Tribe
So now, as the CEO of your own company, it is your job to build your tribe AND as a human, it is your job to do things that make you HAPPY. Real freedom is not found in your bank account alone - it's found in the choice you make to create your happiness and experiences in your life.
Here are some things you can do to build your own local network.
1. Host a meetup in your local town
2. Get OUTSIDE - if you have a dog, go to the dog park. You have a laptop most likely - if you have an online business - start bringing your work to places where people you resonate with hang out
3. Talk to people OFFLINE - powerful connections are not found only online. I've met people and potential clients and connections at the coffee shop, the laundry mat, and the grocery store
4. Host a workshop - CHARGE for a class in your local community. Make money AND make connections!
The ideas are endless. I know for me, I started GENIUS AFTER HOURS - so I could meetup with other holistic, purposeful business owners in Los Angeles who are into healthy food, great conversations, and LOVING their lives out loud. I plan to go on fun field trips, events, and explore different healthy and cool restaurants in LA with this FUN way to build my tribe and network.
If you are in the Los Angeles area, come to my event! I actually have one tonight - but if you are reading this after the date - be sure to join the meetup to be notified of future events and join me in my private community online - at my favorite place to hang out INSTAGRAM.
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