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I’ll Meet You at the Appetizer Table!

Ah ha! You thought since I was a health coach this post would be about food. Wrong!


It’s actually about networking. Yes, that painful activity, personal or professional, where you walk into a room full of strangers and attempt to come out with a bunch of contacts. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.


This is about the other side of networking. The side of networking that takes you out of your comfort zone and propels you into a new space. One of new opportunities, new confidence, and new friends. This is where I currently am.


When I started this coaching business, I knew I would have to talk to clients. Duh, that’s what coaches do. But it’s other people that refer clients, so you must talk to them first. However, I did what most new business owners do, I sat back and embraced the mindset of, “If you build it, they will come buy it.” Does that work? Yes and no. Yup, if they know about you and nope if you haven’t left the house/office in two and a half years and haven’t told anyone outside your inner circle what you are doing. So as Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working out for you?” It wasn't good.


After all the fun set-up and administrative work was done (the stuff I told myself I had to do before I could network), it was time to get out there. I put on my “big girl” business suit and went out into the world. And you know what, it wasn’t that scary after all. A bit awkward, but not what I had built up in my mind.


I did start slowly though. Online live workshops, small coffee groups, presentations where I could sit in an audience and not have to speak directly about what I was doing but was amongst others. From there, I built up to some vendor events where I walked around and talked to folks about their businesses, learning what they were saying, how they said it and why. When asked what I did, it was an opening to tell them about my business, why I was there, and give them a business card. Once the first card was out there, it was hard to go back.


Working up to lunch and learns, cocktails receptions and annual Chamber of Commerce meetings was next, sporting events, etc. Then, a funny thing happened along the way. I started running into people I’d met at other functions, and it was so nice and comforting to see a familiar face or two. When I started getting vendor tables at events, it was a really full-circle moment to be the person on the other side “selling” my business. Those folks I had spoken to back then were now championing me and sending people my way. Hey, this networking thing was working!


The greatest benefit however was the people. We all know it can be really hard to make new friends as an adult. This has been one the happiest outcomes of starting a new business. In making connections to grow the business, I have developed new friendships as well. These are people who I have connected with through our mutual interest in business, health and wellness, similar culture, parenting, or just proximity and it was effortless to find that common ground, all I had to do was put myself out there. Who knew the appetizer table would be the next big thing in building friendships!


It got me thinking. What if I had ventured out earlier? What had been holding me back? Like most people, I was comfortable and stuck in my routines. It became easy to say, “I can’t do this,” or “I can’t go there,” because I didn’t know anyone. I was denying myself an adventure or an opportunity. But it was starting this business that got me out there finally. Could I have done it on my own without starting a business? Of course I could have, but what would it have taken? I decided to brainstorm a list.

  1. It had to be something really interesting.

  2. It had to be something important or of value.

  3. It had to be accessible.

  4. It had to be low exposure! LOL


Using this list, I started to think about activities I could have done that met that criteria and would have presented an opportunity to meet like-minded people.


  1. What I was looking for was likely something I was into like health, fitness, or reading.

  2. What I was looking for was something that I could use or would improve my life or knowledge.

  3. What I was looking for had to be close, and probably have “an escape route” if needed! (A little social anxiety anyone?)

  4. What I was looking for was likely not an intimate gathering but somewhere I could blend in and still gain the full benefit of being there, but possibility meet a kindred spirit.

The odds of finding someone there with similar interests and maybe a similar reticence was likely to be high. But what if our two souls found one another? What connections and friendships have I missed out on previously while I pondered my venture into the land of “people.”


If you are struggling with making new friends, here’s a couple of ideas that build on the process mentioned above for finding that interesting, valuable, accessible, and possibly low exposure opportunity.


Non-scary, ways to meet new people:

  • Volunteer in your community (you’ll feel better too.)

  • Join your local Chamber of Commerce or Business Networking group if you are a business owner (worked for me!)

  • Join a spiritual or cultural group (talk about like-minded!)

  • Join a wine club (be careful here!)

  • Join a sports team fan club or join a local adult league team (let’s goooooo!!!!)

  • Go to the dog park if you have a dog (or borrow your neighbor’s dog😊)

  • Join local Facebook groups (always be careful with social media!)

  • Take a class; art, language, pottery, painting, wine tasting, etc. (selfcare/new friends, win-win!)

  • Frequent the farmer’s market (healthy people shop at healthy places)

  • Visit a local brewery or take a brewery tour (if you like beer?)

  • Join Meetup.com (again, proceed with caution but I’ve heard good things.)

Wish I had researched this list a long time ago! My dance card would be filled!


I have new friends now in new spaces that I attend events with, meet for catch ups, and just hang out with. It’s something I really didn’t think was possible, but I guess anything is possible if you just try. Who knew business networking would be the key for me. This process is expanding my horizons and I’m learning new things every day as well as learning new things about myself. I can talk to people! LOL And now, I have more to talk about with my old friends!


So, the next time you’re at an event, big or small, if you see a nervous person standing next to the appetizer table (probably me), go up and say hi! You just never know where that new connection will take you.


Have you gotten out there, made new friends, and tried new things? What were the steps you took in getting there? Your courage, experience, and faith could help someone out there do the same!


Leave a comment, share this post, and have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Take care and be well,

Courtney


P.S. There's always shrimp on the appetizer table! 😊


Networking is one of the best ways to meet new people. Connecting with others has a tremendous positive impact on your health!
Get out there and meet new friends!

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