I popped my cherry for the Sisterhood last night.
Get your mind out of the gutters sisters from other misters, I popped my biz networking cherry to be exact. Part of starting your own business is about networking, meeting new people, influencing others on your business and trying to figure out how to make sense of this crazy thing called entrepreneurship. I was bricking myself. I even shot to the toilet as I arrived to calm my nerves. I gave myself a stern talking too and got my big girl panties on and headed out into the unknown and into a sea of chattering networking women biz owners.
For those that know me, I don’t have a problem with talking to people. I was known as gabby-jaws by my pseudo godfather (my real godfather was an absentee reverend who fell off the wagon) but I digress. In fact I freaking love talking to people. I love people, I love what they have to say, I try to be curious about them and I generally walk into parties feeling very confident in myself, knowing I won’t have a problem finding someone to talk to. This is because a party is likely to be for someone I know, a friend. I have connections with those friends, they know me, know I am no wallflower, know I love a wine or three like to spin a good yarn. We cut through the small talk years ago, we just shoot the shit, straight from the start of the night.
But networking, that’s different, that’s hard that requires small talk and me explaining what I do. That makes my tummy do flip-flops and my teeth freeze in my mouth, with a demented smile plastered to my face.
Even though I’ve worked for years where networking was an important part of what we do, this was different, I was flying solo. You see what I did there, I said “we”. Because 100% of the time that I have ever networked, it’s been about what we do, about a business I work for, a project I am working on. This time was hugely different, it was about Sisterhood of Style and no one else can talk about it like I can – and that’s so scary I felt a little bit sicky uppy.
But you know what sisters, as soon as I grabbed my drink (non-alcoholic) a gorgeous sister come straight up to me and introduce herself – thank you Fiona Hall. She had recognised me from Facebook and Instagram and immediately put me at ease. Then I felt my nerves slide slowly away and anyone I mentioned my nerves too, they all nodded in agreement with me, imparting their own cherry popping moment for networking or how they like to handle it. One very sisterhood-loving difference about a women’s networking event – you hug hello – heart to heart. That’s fucking cool. You don’t get that at a male dominated network night.
So I thought some of you sisters may be feeling the same way about networking and I could help with some tips I learnt tonight. I’ve also included some gems that I learnt from the speakers, who were kick-arse awesome and who each spoke on purpose and perseverance, timely given I was struggling to persevere with networking.
This story has a good ending, a great ending. I sucked up my scardy-cat and gave myself a good talking too. I mixed and mingled and started to hand out my newly minted business cards. Women asked me what I did, we hugged, we were introduced to new people, we laughed, we agreed to meet up and possibly even collaborate (that got my creative juices flowing) and I left at 11pm freaking happy, so buzzed I couldn’t sleep, so I sat up and wrote this. I hope your next networking is as successful, try my tips & tricks below to help you. If you’ve got any advice on networking, the sisterhood would love to hear it, please share.
SISTERHOOD OF STYLE NETWORKING CHERRY POPPING TIPS
Tip 1: Don’t drink. Despite loving seeing a glass of wine waiting for me at an event, I appreciated that I didn’t drink. A large group of women in a room have a an incredible energy (and noise) and don’t need alcohol (sometimes we do) to fuel it. Without the booze (it was a dry event) I had no dutch courage, I just had me and that ended up being ok.
Tip 2: Force yourself, whatever you do, to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. I was a bit giddy to meet a lot of women I’ve only known via social media and coaching groups I am in. So to meet them in person, to realise that some of them knew of Sisterhood of Style, was incredible and mind-blowing and just bloody awesome. But I wouldn’t have found that out, unless I had forced myself to be brave in the first place and buy a ticket to the event and then say hello to strangers.
Tip 3: I can’t let a tip and trick slip by without sharing my style advice. Wear something that makes you feel fantastic. Don’t wear anything that you need to pull, push or alter during the evening. Wear colour. Stand out if you can. Women appreciate good style, they know when they see it. You are in a room of like-minded business women, all putting their best selves forward, you should too. Wear something that someone will comment on – its a great icebreaker. I fell in love with a million pairs of shoes at the event and spoke to the women wearing them, telling them so.
Snippets of kick-arse awesome advice from the speakers:
JFDI – Just fucking do it – Belinda Tuki from Honest Food Company
Shed your shit and shine – Dr Martha Nessler
Life is about stepping stones and stopping points – Dr Martha Nessler
Set a bold money goal – Catherine Newton
You can’t unlearn that – Amanda Betts from Bridge the Gap
I don’t want to be famous, I want to change the world – Natalie Cutler Welsh from Go to Girl NZ and the event host
EJ xx The mother of the Sisterhood.
This is the outfit I wore to the event.