When you connect in-person with your potential customers, are you genuine and authentic?
Do you feel a bit awkward and try to be something you’re not because you were told this is how networking “should” be done?
In this installment of Business Lessons from the Cat, I want to talk about the in-person component of marketing from a feline perspective. After all, cats waiting for adoption must be marketing masters if they want to find that purrfect forever home (aka land the ideal customer).
No matter how you slice it, you have to get out from behind your computer and meet people if you want to succeed in business. Technology offers amazing opportunities for marketing and connection, yet nothing is as powerful as being face- to -face and in-person with someone else.
The question is: are you using these opportunities to truly connect with others in a way that is authentic, effective, and compelling?
In our journey to adopt kittens, we did our initial explorations online (which I wrote about in this business lessons from the cat article), but then it was time for the real-deal meet and greet in person event. Off to the local pet store where the cat rescue organization from which we adopted brings their cats available for adoption.
Now you might think that as a business owner you could never compete with the sheer cuteness of a cage full of kittens. You’d be right! Yet the fundamental principles of these encounters apply to human and feline alike. There is something innately refreshing and effective about knowing that “what you see is what you get”.
Nothing says “run away” like a hissing, problem cat that wants to have nothing to do with the people that have come to meet him. Ask yourself: Do you show up at networking meetings irritated? Running late? Self-absorbed? Your energy speaks volumes. It enters the room before you and lingers long after you leave. What is your energy saying about you?
This is where the time spent in self-care and self-growth yields a direct impact because your inner awareness is keener and your connections can go deeper. Not to mention you learn how to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable which is totally necessary for getting yourself out there!
I highly doubt kittens sit in a cage scheming to be someone they are not (even though those loveable fur balls are the most manipulative creatures!). However, sometimes the cat you meet in the crate has a little different personality once you bring them home. I know our little Ginger Fiamma was this meek, nervous little kitten hiding in the cage. We thought “how sweet!” As soon as we brought her home, she showed her true colors as ringleader of the bunch playing, wrestling, and generally going berserk in a high-energy way. Totally unexpected yet so very lovable and true to her sweet core!
Are you being your authentic self when you’re out and about networking? If you’re trying to be someone you’re not or a version of what a “successful business owner” is “supposed” to be according to some guru on high, you’re setting yourself up for disaster. If you’re a service provider, the rapport and honesty you have with people is paramount. Drop the façade and just be you. It’s the most effective tool you have at your disposal.
Seek to Give (Only Then Can You Receive)
It’s all about building relationships that last. Networking is not about trying to sell someone something. It’s about genuine connection and the art of giving and receiving. Kittens have no idea what’s at stake (adoption) when they come out into the world the first time. They just melt into your arms and try to win you over. They give you the gift of their playful antics as they interact with each other and their toys.
Every time you meet people simply aim to connect with them. Learn about them. See how you can help them. Open the door to a relationship. Then you just might find yourself on the receiving end of something great in the future (referrals, new business, collaborator, etc.).
The next time you find yourself engaged in in-person marketing activities, take the pressure off of yourself. If you’re an introvert, you might feel like you have to be the life of the event or “work the room”. You don’t. Follow these three rules and you just might find some magic unfolding simply by being yourself (just like our 3 shy kitties did)!