My First Time Networking As a New Entrepreneur and What I Learned.
I’ll never forget my first networking event as a brand new entrepreneur.
Of course, I’d been to networking events before, but they were for my j-o-b.
As a corporate consultant, I had an identity as a kick-butt Project Manager for a consulting company. I knew what I did every single day, and I felt darn good about it. Now, I was venturing into new territory.
I had just (fearfully) resigned from that corporate job that had been paying my comfortable, six-figure salary in pursuit to live my new-found purpose and fly solo on my own.
I knew I was supposed to network. I needed to “put myself out there” so that I could meet other women entrepreneurs -- especially because that’s who I knew in my heart that I was meant to serve.
So, after doing some research, I found a local women’s networking group and showed up precisely at the start time (because the early bird gets the worm, right?).
I put on my corporate “uniform.” A black dress, high-heels, and the perfect amount of jewelry (not too much...but not too little). Grabbed my hot-off-the-press business cards that read “Business Consultant,” and off I went.
I walked in the room and immediately went to the registration table to get my “Hello My Name Is…” name tag, in my best handwriting, wrote “Terra Bohlmann” with a black sharpie, and slapped that baby on the right side of my chest.
Then, I paused.
I stood there alone because everyone in the room was already talking to other people or in small, exclusive little groups.
I knew no one. That reality hit me hard.
I had never felt more alone in my life.
After a few minutes, a woman took pity on me and struck up a conversation.
She asked (the dreaded question), “So, what do you do?”
I awkwardly stumbled through what I thought I did which I **pretty much** made up because I didn’t have any customers yet.
I didn’t get the sense that I “nailed” my elevator pitch because she proceeded to tell me all about how she had a “super successful” insurance business but also sold real estate on the side.
Pretty soon, I figured out that everyone at that "networking event" was trading pitches and not trading business strategies (or encouragement).
By the end of the afternoon, I could sense that no one in the room was comfortable. And no one was being authentic.
On the drive home, I couldn’t stop obsessing over how this whole process could be better.
I needed the support of women around me that were building their businesses.
Sharing the highs, sharing the lows, and bestowing their success secrets to help fast-track my business success.
I just needed to know how to get my first three customers.
I didn’t want to feel alone.
I wanted to feel safe to ask for the support I needed.
And I definitely didn’t want to beg for my old job back.
So, off I went to find the right networking community. There were some great ones and some not-so-great ones.
At one event six-months later, I saw me, except it wasn’t me. It was a woman named Carrie.
Carrie looked just like I did, down to the same high-heels. She was shy and projected insecurity and discomfort.
She reminded me of myself just six months prior.
I went up to Carrie immediately. I didn’t ask her, “so, what do you do?”
Instead, I told her that I loved her high-heels and asked how her drive was to the event.
I made her feel safe.
We got lost in conversation, and then she admitted to me that she was new in business, and her sales were zero.
Guess what I did? I gave her my personal success secrets on how I got my first five (paying) customers.
* * *
This experience taught me that I had a gift for helping women feel safe and connected.
I knew there was a need to help connect women entrepreneurs together.
So, I stepped up to the plate and built a community where high-achieving women trade business strategies, not pitches.
I didn't build this for myself or what I could get out of it. I built it for you.
I never want any woman entrepreneur to feel alone.
Whether you are just starting out or you’ve been in business for a while, I want you to find the right group to help you get to your next level.
Because a like-minded, trusted community is powerful.
Women who share insights help fast-track each other.
We are all better together.