Networking Tips for Young Entrepreneurs (from a Young Entrepreneur)
1 is the loneliest number
Being an entrepreneur, especially a solo-preneur and designer can be lonely! Don’t get me wrong, I love my alone time, when it is just me and my designs, but last year, I was finding myself a little stuck being just by myself. It is important to surround myself with like-minded creative individuals to bounce ideas off of and collaborate on projects with. But where do you find these people!?
Where to Meet Peeps
1. Meet Up
Meet-Up is a great resource for solo-preneurs and just plain social people! There is literally a meet-up group for everything, especially if you are in a big city like San Diego. When you first download the app, you get to select all of your interests. Beware: It will add you to all of the groups. I made this mistake but it was honestly for the better! I found out about all sorts of local networking groups that were meeting in my area and have visited as a guest to many of them.
2. Local Chamber of Commerce
As a result of one of the meet-up groups I attended, I connected with the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce. This have been single-handedly my greatest source of referrals and I HIGHLY suggest that anyone with a business join their local Chamber. Especially in a small community like Solana Beach, it is so important to know your business neighbors. The Chamber does charge a membership fee, but they also put on great events and informational luncheons for its participants. Every time I go is an opportunity to share what new things I am working on and remind all the attendees what I can do to help them and their businesses!
3. Alumni Groups
Joining your college alumni group is also a great way to spread the word about your business. Most people enjoy supporting their fellow alumni, and your college will be happy to share you are making it out on your own in the world. USD Alumni Association
Reach Out to your Instagram Crushes
I have made a good amount of close business friends by messaging people who I thought were cool and interesting (and in my area) on Instagram. A great way to find new peeps on instagram is to search via hashtags. I always check in on the #SolanaBeach and #Encinitas ones to see who is out and about in North County. At a coffee shop that you like? Look at their recently tagged and see who else is a regular. They may just be willing to meet up over a cup of joe! Keep up with them by following their account and liking/commenting on their images. Let them know you’re there! @mkwgraphics
Ask for Reviews // Let others do your bragging for you
No one likes to toot their own horn, but testimonials and word of mouth are networking currency. Is a recent client happy with your project? Send them the link to your reviews page on Facebook and ask if they could write something short and sweet! Going to a networking event? Invite a client or collaborator to go with you. It is much more comfortable having someone else introduce you and your accomplishments then trying to brag about yourself. Just be sure you do the same for them. Pssst.. you can read my reviews here!
Out of sight out of mind! The number 1 most important rule of networking is to be present. Whether you are at a formal networking event or just at your local grocery store, don’t miss an opportunity to share about what you do (in a non-pushy way). If there is anything I have learned from this last year it is that your don’t always have to be talking about yourself to get new jobs. If someone knows about you and what you do, sometimes showing up is enough to remind them that they have a friend looking for a new logo or custom art piece. I also learned this last year that I don’t have time for downtime. I am CONSTANTLY acquiring new clients because there is no guarantee that the ones I have now will be the same ones I have 3 months from now. I tested it a little bit last May and had my first REALLY slow month and let me tell you it wasn’t fun. Now I know that I have to participate and stay visible in my spheres in order to keep that pipeline of new clients going. Even if I can’t help them right this minute, I want them to think of me first when they do need me!