Entrepreneurs and small business owners can feel isolated. No direct peers, no one to report to (other than yourself!), no one to confide in, no one to proudly point out the blocks of your empire that you constructed.
Yet with all the Zoom networking, with all the LinkedIn searching, referrals, skills endorsements, recommendations, with all the tools we have in our outbound marketing tool boxes, it’s still hard to break into an established group of any sort, into a list of preferred vendors, into an organization considering you as a new untried service provider, without aggressively seeking others for support.
It’s you on the bench.
That strategy of putting myself out there–injecting my energy into new networking groups–has definitely paid off in the past 9 pandemic weeks. I have listened to the elevator pitches, noted the ones that touched on my work for possible collaboration, and identified the most interesting voices in the room.
I have reached out to get to know them. Some have needs for my expertise. Others politely noted my exuberance, others referred me to their connection(s). I am thankful and do not feel alone when that happens. Yes, I do collect the right people like baseball cards.
Not all new zoomers I encountered are seasoned entrepreneurs. Some are newly out of school looking for some advice (they have to ask first). Some are without their regular jobs and are supplementing their cottage business or hanging a new shingle out of necessity. You have to start somewhere, to learn by osmosis from the seasoned ones who dared to go before you. Some are seeking new audiences as am I. No two are alike.
But it seems it is just me reaching out, most of the time. I get very few unsolicited offers from these zoom networking groups. I solicit those I have chosen, asking for a half hour chat. Everyone accepts my invitation, but few invite me. That’s human nature: stuck, shy, too busy, unwilling to seem needy, any of a number of psycho-social reasons.
After a zoom conversation laying out our respective areas of expertise, we may click. I do get requests to quote on a meaty assignment, then I enthusiastically send my proposal outlining my work, with my price ratcheted to the education I can beneficially impart. It’s a cycle.
Do I win them all? Nope. Never expected to. I know it’s not me alone. Being the also-ran is in some ways a solitary role too…
But I am immensely satisfied that my solicited proposal received fair evaluation and that the decision-makers are giving my price and value due consideration. Win or not, I still love this challenge of being a paleo-preneur: a hunter-gatherer!
It’s not how you win or lose. It’s how you cherish the game of entrepreneurship.