This is a guest post by Natalie Edwards.
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about London since leaving the corporate world, it’s that we’re all so starved of connection. The down-side to living in such a fast-paced city is that we can get swept up in that pace even when it might not feel right for us. We develop a tunnel-vision approach to work and we miss the amazing opportunities that surround us because we’re not paying attention to each other. We forget how to really connect with people because we’re too busy or worried about what others will think of us.
How many times have you been at a party and been introduced to someone after which their name has instantly disappeared from your mind? That’s possibly because as you were shaking their hand, you were more concerned with what they were thinking about you rather than remembering their name and being interested in them. This doesn’t make you a bad person, it just makes you human as we all do it sometimes, but learning to cultivate authentic connection brings limitless opportunity into our lives.
I’m often asked for the secret behind how I’ve managed to connect with certain people, particularly when they didn’t know who I was or I didn’t have what others might deem to be the ‘correct work experience’. I’ll let you in on that little secret right now……There are no secrets! Everyone I’ve worked with, had the pleasure of interviewing, or created a project with since leaving the 9-5, has been someone I’ve simply just reached out to.
I think reaching out, asking for help or just letting someone know you admire their work is something so many of us are afraid to do because we worry we’ll look stupid or be rejected. But connection is so important and you never know where a simple email can take you. If you’re at the start of your business and have some people in mind that you’d like to speak to, just contact them and say hello. Write them a heartfelt email saying how much you admire what they are creating, or if you think you could offer them something or be an asset to their business, suggest a collaboration, competition, volunteer, or explain how you can add value to what they are already doing.
“Times are always changing, but with the power of connection, truth, courage and vision we can thrive in the chaos.”
- LK Tamaya
People commonly believe the myth (particularly those thinking of setting up their own business) that we have to do everything alone. This is simply not true. Successful businesses gradually build a team of people and key connections in similar or complimentary industries that can help them leverage their business idea.
What can you do?
1. Ask yourself two questions every morning, “Who do I need to speak to today?” and “Who would I love to work with?”
2. Make a list with two columns, ‘My heroes and inspirations’, and ‘Companies or individuals I am interested in and could help me’.
3. Create a goal to contact one from each column every few days or once a week and see what happens.
I reached out to an author after reading her book to say how much I enjoyed it and suggested the idea of interviewing her for my blog. The next thing I know I’m doing that interview, she’s featuring my personal story on her blog, and putting me in touch with more connections of her own. The amazing thing was that we both benefited from this and we are now able to recommend each other for future projects.
It might seem nerve-racking to some of you, but making connections this way can be very beneficial – at the very least you will make someone’s day and put a smile on their face. On a larger scale, these connections can potentially help you broaden your knowledge, find your future business partner, or get you featured in the press.
What about rejection?
Every single time I have contacted someone, the response has only ever been positive. Even if it’s not led anywhere, connecting with them in some form has helped to spread the word of my mission – they at least know who I am and what I do and sometimes will recommend me to others.
My advice is to keep reaching out. I promise you the more you do it, the more comfortable you will become with the often scarily perceived term that we know as ‘networking’.
Natalie Edwards is a Health & Mindfulness Coach.
She specialises in working with women with the same negative body image issues and feelings of low self-worth, which held her back in her own life and career for many years.
You can find out more about her here.