Working for yourself can be a dream come true for many. It can also be very lonely.
You may be spending time writing blog posts, updating your social media, producing podcasts, creating eBooks, and maintaining your website. In addition to all of these things, you also need to meet new people, grow your client list, and connect with people you already know so they can learn more about your business and keep you moving towards your business goals.
I have heard my workshop participants say:
“After I have spent a few hours writing, I have nothing left. Talking to other people is the last thing I want to do.”
“I have grown extremely attached to my schedule of going to yoga and then coming home to work. I don’t think meeting people in my yoga outfit is a good business image.”
“Oh my goodness! There is always so much to do as I run my business. I do not know how I can connect with others while managing everything else.”
“There is not enough time for me to grow my business. I cannot go to all these events and meet new people. I’m running out of investment funds.”
“ARGH! I do not know how else to get myself and my business out there. I hate swapping business cards. It’s like recess for loser entrepreneurs.”
“I really wish I could have this business and have my clone run it for me. I feel overwhelmed with all the moving parts, especially trying to connect with other people.”
At some point or another, many entrepreneurs have felt the pull and push of what they are actually doing and what they should be doing. It can be an exhausting cycle of trying to work diligently, but not seeing the immediate fruits of labor. The constant management, use of mental energy, and the nagging fear of not doing enough can leave many entrepreneurs feeling defeated.
A system that has supported me in growing my business without feeling like it was all for nothing is the 4-3-2-1 approach. (My business mentor showed her 3-2-1 process to me and I have modified it.)
Here are the steps:
4. Snail mail connections: I have blank notes and postcards that have my business logo and contact information on them. Each Monday, I will write 4 letters or notes to clients, friends, past business collaborators, or new people I have met to check in with them. I mention our last interaction and then I share something new I’m working on. Because I’m doing this all by hand, my message is concise, to the point, and genuine. I usually receive a phone call or email response once the recipient receives their postcard from me. It opens up a conversation for new opportunities or referrals. Plus, who doesn’t like to receive mail that isn’t a bill?
3. Volunteer connections: Growing up, I was a Girl Scout. I even worked at a Girl Scout camp when I was in college. I believe in service and working with people, and being a Girl Scout helped solidify these values for me. On Tuesdays, I will research three organizations I may want to volunteer with and also share my expertise. In the past, I have volunteered with Girl Scouts, local schools, STEM projects, and fundraising events. This allows me to learn more about my community. These organizations are always happy to promote my work and share their connection with me on their websites and promotional materials.
2. Follow ups: Based on responses from my work on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday usually means I need to do some follow-ups. The follow-ups may be via email, phone, video conferencing , or a face-to-face meeting. The point is, I leave a chunk of time open on Wednesday to be ready to meet with people. (And, yes, sometimes I have more than 2 follow-ups, which is always welcomed.)
1. Accomplish note (maybe more): Working for myself fills me up and I make sure I acknowledge my accomplishments. On Thursday or Friday, I will write my accomplishments for that week on an individual notecard. I have a bulletin board next to my desk where I display my accomplishment cards. The cards serve as a reminder that I am working hard and it is paying off. On those rare days when I am questioning why I’m working for myself, the accomplishments serve has a clear reminder that I can do it and then I feel inspired to keep going.
Having a system that supports your entrepreneurial efforts is important to help you go the distance and make the work you do sustainable. Tinker with the tips I have provided to make them work for you. Do not be afraid to switch things up until you find the right structure.
How do you make business connections without being overwhelmed? What business practices have you had to drop or outsource to keep you from jumping ship?
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