Real World Networking: Shake Some Hands and Kiss Some Babies

real world networkingJulie is a content marketing consultant with a serious problem.

She’s great at helping small businesses rock their content marketing but the trouble is …

She consistently finds excuses to worm her way out of offline networking events and opportunities. She squirms at the thought of networking in person.

Julie is the quintessential introvert. Her comfort zone is her home office.

Granted, it’s a beautifully-designed space with her favorite artwork and accessories, comfy office chair, pretty textiles, soothing wall colors, and all the spiffy must-have electronics.

Not to mention the fabulous view overlooking her garden and the peaceful sounds of an indoor water fountain.

No wonder she doesn’t want to leave the house!

I understand how Julie feels. You guessed it – I’m an introvert, too.

Criss Jami really nailed the essence of introversion:

“Telling an introvert to go to a party is like telling a saint to go to Hell.”

But hibernating in her comfortable spa-like workspace and conducting ALL of her business from home means Julie is really narrowing her chances to expand her client base. She’s also missing out on making some new friends and meeting prospective joint venture partners.

So, what is networking in the real world?

It’s having the human experience of face-to-face interaction. It’s …

  • Lunch ‘n Learn gatherings
  • Meetups
  • Coffee shop talks
  • Local events
  • Retreats
  • Soirees (Parties)
  • Chamber of Commerce mixers
  • Book signings
  • In-person Masterminds
  • Public speaking engagements
  • Trade shows
  • Seasonal festivals
  • Knocking on the doors of local businesses to introduce yourself and your services

Julie needs to shake some hands and kiss some babies.

She may not see herself as a social butterfly but she needs to spread her [business] wings and elevate her chances for greater success as a content marketing consultant.

Besides the obvious benefits, getting out and about will help an introvert like Julie hone her interpersonal skills and speaking skills.

Turning it over to you now

How are you networking in the real world? Are you planning to host any offline events?

Be sure to click the “Local events” link above to see what’s happening in your neck of the woods. Just type your city and state and then choose a category. Let me know if you find something that piques your interest. (Example: Business events in Portland, OR)

My fellow carnies (some of the best and brightest writers around!) have a lot more to say on this topic in this month’s Word Carnival, Rediscover the Real World: Unplug, Unwind, Unleash

  • Hello Melanie, I was introduced to a couple of ways to networking with several people online but offline Meetups were most definitely the best bet. Currently I’m working diligently on becoming more of an extrovert since meeting new people is somewhat a problem I have had in the past, you have a great input on these matters.

    • Hi Jermaine

      Thanks for catching my post and I’m glad to hear MeetUp dot com has proven to be a good offline networking resource for you! It’s grown in popularity over the years and it’s a great place to start, especially if you’re new to a community. When I moved from California to Arizona, I was anxious to see what networking opportunities were available to me. Of course, you can always start your own MeetUp – which makes it even more attractive. 🙂

      Not everyone is outgoing, Jermaine, and that’s okay. I’m one who will always prefer an intimate gathering over a large crowd. The good news is you don’t need to be in the presence of large numbers of people to network, successfully and effectively, in the real world.

      Hope you’ll stop by again sometime.

  • Yup.

    Whenever I need to build my client list back up, I start by teaching classes. I talk relentlessly about social theory and how to apply it to your marketing with anyone and everyone who will listen. I make sure I get connected to the folks I see as movers and shakers and make sure my opinions are known.

    All of these things, of course, take real-world effort. Trying to teach a class on social media just using Google+ hangouts is a recipe for disaster if you don’t reach out and invite folks. Holding a lunch-and-learn is a much better opportunity to get folks in the door and thinking about what you can do for ’em.

    • You got it wired, Nick! 🙂

      Sometimes I think online marketers forget there’s a real world out there. No joke. So many of them truly believe the internet is the be-all, end-all means of doing business. WRONG. People are people and we need human interaction. But not only do we need it, we benefit from it! It’s one thing to share stories, laughter, or knowledge, electronically, and another thing altogether to share those same items in person.

      Me? I like to put my hands on people when I’m talking with them. I can’t help it. I want them to know I care … and I want them to “feel” how much I care. I can’t do that online. I believe your personality is revealed and takes center stage (I happen to know you’re a pro at being on stage) when you’re in the same room with people. Online it’s much harder to bring your personality to the forefront, don’t you think?

      KUDOS to you for getting out and “teaching classes” when you need to build your client list back up!

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Nick.

  • Thanks for the resources Melanie. Although I got out more in Las Vegas, for some reason since I moved to Florida (it’s already been a year.. sheesh! Time flies!) I have stayed in my own little sanctuary only networking through social media. These resources will help me check out what’s going on where I live now and this topic has definitely given me a nudge to get out!

    • Hooray for you, Denisse! Happy you’re encouraged to leave the house. Thanks for joining the conversation. 🙂

      Lots and lots of people can relate to this …
      “I have stayed in my own little sanctuary only networking through social media.” You’re not alone by a long shot!

      After all, who really wants to get dressed up, primp, prepare, and pound the offline networking pavement?! I’d venture to say very few people. It’s yet another commitment on an already impossible-to-tackle to-do list. The ONLY thing that would nudge me is the “right” event. It better be great and it better be fun! 😉

      Good luck with finding offline networking events in Florida! (You’re welcome for the resources.)

  • I love this post Melanie:-) From one intro / extro to another, I can tell you, you’re so on target. Years ago, I used to participate to many networking events but eventually it took a toll on me and I went underground:-)
    It took me time to understand that, just because I’m comfortable on “stage,” it doesn’t mean that I’m an extrovert. I noticed that I could give a presentation in front of a room full of people but the minute I was done . . . I was done!
    I’m much better in small, intimate gatherings with people I can connect with. I’m not good at small talk. I tend to listen and absorb a lot. This can be a gift and a curse, as you know.
    Your article inspires me to venture out again:-) This time, balance needs to be my focus.
    Thank you Melanie.

    • Thanks for catching my post, Yota. What a delightful treat! 🙂

      One thing I’ve observed over the years is people who EXUDE CONFIDENCE (such as yourself) are oftentimes introverts. It’s uncanny but true.
      “I bet you’re the life of the party” is a remark I hear a lot. No! I’m not the life of the party. I’m the person who’s great at planning and organizing the party and making certain attendees enjoy themselves.

      I can relate to this …
      “I tend to listen and absorb a lot. This can be a gift and a curse” Too true! 😉

      I’m pleased to learn you’d like to venture out again and work toward balancing your online and offline networking efforts. Kudos, Yota! Keep me posted.

  • Facebook has actually been really useful in getting details on local events for me – interesting that we wind up finding so much about local events from the same place we can get stuck not interacting with people, huh 😉 I’ve made several great friends at networking events including some good professional connections. It’s all about balancing the online & the off!

    • Hi Michelle – really cool to see you here.

      You hit the networking nail on the head! Balancing online and offline opportunities to make connections and build relationships is IDEAL. Thanks for sharing your experience in utilizing Facebook (of all places!) to find offline networking events.
      Go figure. 😉

      Thanks for joining the conversation!

  • I love all of your suggestions. Hello my name is Julie – sometimes. I can get out more now and really looking forward to it. I truly love hiding at home…I wish I had a room like Julies though, well maybe not then I REALLY would have a hard time leaving. Gotta get a fountain though soon. Love your resources. Thanks Melanie

    • Hi Julie (sometimes) LOL!

      As I was crafting this post, Michelle, “I” was wishing I had an office like Julie’s, too. 😉
      However, I recently met someone in Tea’s Biz Bloggers’ Mastermind who DOES have a beautiful and tranquil office like Julie’s. Her name is Yota Schneider. You should look her up – she’s a great gal to know and a darn good blogger.

      I’m SO glad to hear you’re getting out more and enjoying it. I’m the kind who needs a nudge, a prod, or a big fat push to get out the door. Once I’m out, I’m okay. It’s making that initial effort that’s challenging for me. Yes, I’m a lot like you – “I truly love hiding at home.” 🙂

      Thanks for knocking on my door today!

  • As the token extrovert commenting today (how did that happen?) I can say that even those of us who love to mingle can sometimes forget to make it a priority. I try hard not to get into the rut of always attending the same events. More importantly I need to remind myself that there is a business purpose, and follow through is crucial.

    Now I just need to remember it’s kiss babies and shake hands…

    • Dear Extrovert,

      I’m envious of your outgoing nature, Nicole. Willing to teach some of us introverts how to be more OUT-trovert? 😉
      I love people! I just don’t want to be around large groups of them for any length of time. LOL!

      “I try hard not to get into the rut of always attending the same events.” That’s the spirit! Better yet, I think you’d be the perfect candidate to host YOUR OWN offline events. I know they’d be a blast.

      Thanks a heap for the visit!

  • This is great, Melanie. Every month, based on what’s happening in my business, I set an in-person networking quota.

    Some months it may be zero (hey, won’t lie!) and others it’s five. It doesn’t matter if I do it all in a week or if it takes the entire month, but like a Highway Patrol officer on a mission: I meet my quota.

    Next week I’ve set aside an entire morning to go walk down a local Main Street where lots of small businesses and professional contractors work, and see if I can chat and make some new friends. I’d like to host a three-month social media mastermind group – realistically in Fall after school is back in session. So I’ll be hitting the pavement, shaking some hands, and kissing some babies. 🙂

    • Hey, look who’s here! Thanks for swinging by, Lisa.

      I LOVE your “quota” approach to offline networking. You possess precisely what it takes to meet that quota every month – a diligent spirit and mounds of desire. 🙂

      A “social media mastermind group”, ya say?! Let me know when your sales page is ready and I’ll promote it till the cows come home!

      (And if you decide to take on affiliates, please keep me in mind.)

  • It’s so funny to hear all these very opinionated, very smart, and very “social” carnies say how introverted they are! See, the computer really does lie. I guess it comes from working at home but it’s super tough to get out of the house sometimes. I go into hibernation mode. But once I get out into the world I’m like oh, THIS is what it is! Cool.

    Human beings are social by nature. We evolved in tribes and clans and then the internet came along and we had to recreate this idea of “tribes” just to prove that we were still connected. I say, go get connected for real! It matters.

    • I’ll second this motion, Carol Lynn …
      “I say, go get connected for real! It matters.” 🙂

      Yeah, the “tribes” thing. Ugh. *Sigh*
      Sure, people like Seth Godin maximized on the concept (probably raked in a bundle of moola, too) but I swear. Did it take a reminder from ancient times for people to understand and appreciate the value of human connections?! As soon as “tribes” started being thrown around online, people were acting as if it was something totally new and … wait for it … innovative! Puh-leeze, people. Tribes have been formed since the beginning of time.
      [end of rant]

      Your carnival post this month is da bomb!! Stick some of that brilliance of yours in a test tube and let’s see if we can clone it. 🙂

  • As a bit of an introvert myself (I love hanging out with friends and small groups of people, but I start to get a little antsy around large groups), I totally relate. My home is also my sanctuary! For me, it was really helpful to create a buddy system for attending networking events. I found a fellow solopreneur who also wanted to get out more, and we would peer pressure each other to attend different events. It worked like a charm.

    P.S. Just don’t kiss some hands and shake some babies! 🙂

    • You said an introvert’s magic words, Molly …
      “Small groups”.

      The more intimate the group, the more comfortable I feel. However, if I’m a presenter at an event and I’m speaking from the stage, I really don’t care if thousands of people are in the audience! Go figure. I guess my safety zone is the podium and all that nice open space around me. 😉

      I adore your sense of humor! And I promise not to kiss any hands or shake any babies. LOL!!

  • Much as I love to stay at my desk (card carrying introvert here), face to face meetings really deepen relationships. And events provide a great opportunity to shake up your thoughts and get out of a rut.

    • Glad you brought up “the rut”, Sharon!

      It’s WAY too tempting for folks like you and me to pass on opportunities to network and socialize offline. But getting away from the blinking computer is usually very refreshing. It’s a revival of sorts! It renews your spirit and reminds you you’re alive. And who knows? There might even be a little “fun” in it. 😉

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Love this post, Melanie. And why yes, as a matter of fact, I DO have an in-person event coming up. The Storytelling Soiree for Small Biz Owners is happening this summer in Portland! Funny thing about hosting your own event — at least for me — it brings up childhood anxiety about whether or not anyone would come to my party. I remember waiting nervously for people to arrive (they were never on time, which made it worse), but eventually, I had a blast with those who DID show. And seriously can’t wait to see how the Soiree goes, too.

    • Tea, your Summer Storytelling Soiree is an out-of-the-box, party-hardy, one-of-a-kind event! Oh, all right. There will be some learning going on, too. 😉

      Boy, do I know what you mean about the “anxiety” of waiting to see if anyone shows up for your party – whether that party be your birthday, a storytelling soiree, offline workshop, or seminar. The waiting, wondering, and big time WORRYING is a killer!

      I have a hunch all of Portland will be hearing the frivolity and seeing the fireworks from your summer event! 🙂

      Thank you for joining the conversation. See you over at the Carnival.

  • Melanie, I love this! As an introvert, I totally relate to you and to Julie. It’s much more comfortable to hide behind my computer than to get out and talk to people. However, it’s good for us (like broccoli) and our businesses to get out of our comfort zones and just do it! Love Criss Jami’s quote, too. Haha! So very true!

    • Well, surprise! Surprise! I would have pegged you for an extrovert, Alisa. Just shows we introverts can hide it well. 😉

      You are SO right …
      ” … it’s good for us (like broccoli) and our businesses to get out of our comfort zones.” It may be good for us but it sure ain’t easy!

      I like Criss’s quote, too. 🙂

      Thanks for dropping in!

      • Really? Me and extrovert? Sometimes I really wish I could be. It’s funny because I would have pegged you for an extrovert as well.

        That’s the great thing about online – it’s easy to be comfortable and be yourself with no inhibitions that come with real life. For me, the key to being comfortable when out in real life is preparation. Still, it’s never really comfortable, just less uncomfortable. 😉

        • See what I mean, Alisa? I even had YOU fooled. LOL!

          You nailed it …
          ” … the key to being comfortable when out in real life is preparation” For me to feel confident and at least semi-comfortable, I have to be prepared. Willy-Nilly and wingin’ it doesn’t work for me. The better informed I am about what to expect, the better experience I’ll have. Loose ends, unanswered questions, and a free-for-all environment are not my cup of tea!

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  • I shared at Sharon’s blog that I traveled a lot in my corporate days and I loved it. I saw on more than one occasion coworkers who were so ingrained in their work that they often lost sight of the customer they were supposed to be serving. My face-to-face meetings helped me keep it real.

    While I don’t get to travel like I did, I still make a point to get out to events. As a matter of fact, I have an event I am attending in a few weeks and I always network in November when I go back to San Diego for the 3-Day Walk. It helps keep it real. 🙂

    • Hi Cathy

      I wish there was a prize for the first person to land in my comment box. YOU would be the perpetual winner. 😉

      I love this …
      “My face-to-face meetings helped me keep it real.” Bingo! It’s so easy to get settled in, stuck, and glued to your chair. Your desk is a great place to conduct online networking. But there’s only so much you can do to develop meaningful relationships from your home office. In my estimation, meeting people in person has much greater and lasting rewards. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your personal experience with offline networking!