Do you suffer from Networkphobia?
Okay – you’re right, I made up that word. But the fear, for many people, is all too real. They know that networking is a great strategy for growing their business, but the thought of joining that zoom call, walking into a meeting or signing up to a membership brings them out in a cold sweat.
So this month, I’m talking to you, networkphobes. Let’s look at the causes of networking anxiety and how Fresh can help to alleviate them.
The most common reasons, in my experience, that people fear networking are:
I’ve spent many years networking, and in that time I’ve certainly seen how the way that some networking groups operate can be very daunting to nervous networkers. I’ve struggled with some of those networking fears myself and have every sympathy with you if you feel that networking is just ‘too hard’.
But that’s exactly why I founded Fresh – to be A Fresh Approach to Networking and to eliminate many of the things that put people off.
So what do we do that makes Fresh different, and makes us accessible and enjoyable for even the most nervous of networkers?
Warm and welcoming atmosphere – I spoke to a new member recently who had always wanted to join a networking group but too nervous to join those she’d visited before. “The culture at Fresh made me feel warm, engaged and included”, she told me. “I was no longer nervous – these were just a bunch of really friendly people, who wanted to get to know me.”
Small hubs – at Fresh, we don’t subscribe to ‘bigger is better’. You won’t walk into a room with 50 people. You’ll be part of a smaller group where you can really get to know everyone. There’s still the broader network of hubs for when you’re ready to expand your horizons, but you won’t be overwhelmed in your home hub.
Reasonable commitments – we don’t have a list of KPIs as long as your arm, and we won’t make you feel like a leper if you haven’t ‘lived up to standards’. We ask you to attend regularly and bring guests – and we give you help with techniques and strategies to find them.
We’re all adults – you are professional business owners, and you must be good at what you do. Fresh wants to help you become master networkers. Standards are necessary in order to thrive, and we do measure success, but our role is to foster a supportive environment, not treat you like naughty children. I don’t want to be hitting you over the wrist with my iron wand.
Taking the broad view on ROI – yes, there is a financial investment in Fresh, but our long term members would tell you it’s worth every cent. It’s not just about gaining referrals, but building your network and making yourself more valuable to your clients. We encourage you to put the investment into context and to take a long-term view. Fresh costs around the same as coffee a day – much less than other marketing activities. Think of your first 9-12 months as part of the investment, where you put in time to grow relationships.
Structured meeting agenda – our meeting agendas are designed to give everyone a chance to speak, but never to put you on the spot. We throw in a few icebreakers to help people relax and have some fun along the way.
Fortnightly meetings – we don’t expect you to live, eat and breathe Fresh every minute of every day. Fortnightly meetings give you the chance to balance your networking with your business and family.
Networkphobes – I hear you. I felt the same as you. I set up Fresh specifically to break away from some of the things that make networking so daunting. If you’ve been too anxious to try networking before now, or you’ve had a less than pleasant experience in the past – try Fresh. I promise you there’s nothing to be afraid of…