Recently I have been treating my Tarot business like a BUSINESS. This may sound strange, but it’s a huge and very positive shift. I know that it’s not just me, many Tarot readers find it a challenge to move from seeing Tarot as a hobby, to recognizing that they have a chance to turn their passion into a viable business. Thankfully, I found a wonderful entrepreneurial program here in Toronto that is changing the way I think about myself and how I operate in this world, and there are several intensive coaching programs specific to Tarot that are readily available on the web, perhaps most notably those offered by Biddy Tarot and The Tarot Lady. Help is out there, you just have to look, and be willing to change your perspective a little.
Fear and Loathing of Networking
On my journey to becoming an entrepreneur, I have come to accept the power and necessity of networking. I fought it, I hid from it, I cringed at the mere mention of “networking event”, but now I have to admit that this has been one of the most useful resources for finding clients, alliances, and new friends.
When I first started looking for meet up groups and networking events, I didn’t have much of an idea of what I was doing. I knew that I wanted to find a group that was mainly women but I didn’t think much beyond that. For my first kick at the can, I went with my gut (plus I really liked the name of the group) and the results were astonishing. I arrived at the designated location, a swanky hotel bar in the ritzy part of town, on my own and feeling nervous. To my relief, I immediately ran into someone I knew (I didn’t know she was a member of this group!) which made it easier for me to dive in. As I mingled with the other business owners, I felt a little self-conscious introducing myself. I mean, I’m a Tarot reader! I was expecting to be surrounded by REAL business people, like stock brokers, lawyers and the like, and that I would be the most unconventional fish out of water in the group. Well, that night I met a laughter coach, a Pagan priestess, an energy healer, a yoga guru…the list goes on! I found my tribe! That one night led to some great connections, strategic alliances, and new friendships. It was hard for me to put myself out there, but the support and encouragement that I received was overwhelming.
So, if you are feeling nervous about stepping out of your comfort zone, here are my tips for any metaphysically inclined introverts out there looking to dive into the world of networking!
1. Choose your event or group wisely.
When you are looking for a networking opportunity, do some research. Keep in mind your target market, for clients and for contacts, and search for groups that meet your needs. As a Tarot reader, I was looking for professional women with an interest in self-development and inner growth, so that’s where I started. You never know what might come out of any event, so don’t be afraid to try a little bit of everything, but you’ll get the best results if you do your research beforehand.
2. Identify a specific goal for each event.
Make sure that you have a specific goal in mind before you actually go to the event. Are you looking for clients? For possible strategic alliances? For 5 new names for your email list? If you don’t have a goal, you might have a fun evening but be no further ahead business-wise. Have a plan, and stick to it, for the best results.
3. Be ready to tell people what you are looking for.
In my experience, people (especially women) want to help each other. When you meet someone at a networking event, be ready to tell them how they can help you (for example, in my case, I am often looking to connect with event planners and entertainment agencies). If they know specifically what you’re looking for, there’s a better chance they can help. Also, be sure to ask what YOU can do for them, and follow through.
4. Be prepared to introduce yourself and explain what you do clearly, confidently, and in an engaging manner.
Before you go to any networking events, write and PRACTICE a brief and clear self introduction that tells people who you are, what you do, and what you are hoping to get out of this event. Present yourself confidently, speak positively about your business, and remember that you are a walking and talking advertisement for your business at all times.
5. Even if you don’t feeling like going, just GO!
I know the lure of Netflix and a bottle of wine more deeply than most…some nights it just sounds like paradise to curl up on the couch and hide from the world. At those times I ask myself, “So, Lori, are you going to make any money staying at home in your pajamas, watching The Mindy Project or Orange is the New Black?”. Of course, the answer is no, so I pull myself together and get out the door. Tell yourself, “I’ll just go for half an hour and see how it goes…”. Even a brief appearance can get you the results you need if you arrive well prepared and ready to share what you can do with the world.
A few last words on networking…
I’ll be honest with you, I still find networking events draining. I am naturally an introvert, and it takes a lot of energy for me to introduce myself and chat with people that I don’t know in a noisy and somewhat unnatural group situation. After an event, I am usually so grateful to get home and decompress. But, every time I go to one of these events, they get easier. Every time, I’m able to express myself a little bit better, and every time the nervousness subsides more and more. Overwhelmingly, I have found networking events to be the most direct and meaningful way to connect with people, and I am constantly amazed at the unique, helpful and phenomenal people I meet.
So what do you think? Are you ready to take the plunge?
UPDATE as of May 2015!
Yes, I am still doing the networking rounds, and I’ve had some really wonderful experiences, connecting with my fellow entrepreneurs and colleagues. I’d like to add a couple more options about how to make the most of the networking groups that are out there!
1. EXPLORE Meetup
Are you familiar with this fantastic resource? You can join for free, and then search for networking groups in your area that fit your target market, and also your interests. I have joined a number of groups that are focused on “heart-centred networking” for female entrepreneurs, and also groups that have similar interests to mine, aside from business. This is a great way to meet people, make connections, learn from other entrepreneurs and have fun. If you’re in Toronto, I love the energy of the Entrepreneurial Women’s Cafe, the Pink Portfolio, eWomen Network Toronto Chapter and Toronto Powerful Positive Women.
2. Speak at a Networking Event
Meetup and networking groups are always looking for interesting, fun and informative presenters for their regular meetings. This may be outside of your comfort zone at this time, but give it a try! Choose a group that you are familiar with, perhaps you’re already friendly with most of the members, this is a great opportunity to practice communicating to others what you DO and how it can BENEFIT others. I’ve done this a few times, and I have another couple coming up, and although I get nervous every time I also get better every time.
3. Be an Exhibitor at an Event
If speaking in public is just too much for you right now, I recommend being an exhibitor or a vendor at a networking event. The cost for a table is usually quite reasonable, and this gives you the opportunity to showcase your product or services to a large group in a short period of time. Because people will come to you, its another great chance to practice your pitch one on one, without the intimidation of talking in front of a group.