I was at a bad networking event. You know, the kind where people hand out business cards before saying “hi” to you. The kind where people stop being people, and transform into stiff, sweaty robots with ties and elevator pitches. Yeah, that kind. I caught a bad scent of this one early and warily walked in – heading straight for the food table. I had some brief conversations with several people before someone interrupted me as I grabbed some shrimp. Let’s call him Bob.
“Hi, I’m Bob. What’s your name?”
“Hi, I’m Matt, nice to meet you.”
This is a good start, I thought; he didn’t hand me a business card before saying “hi”. I figured I’d be an enthusiastic participant. After ten to fifteen minutes of pleasant back and forth, he eventually started talking to a woman nearby. They had a seemingly good conversation about the I.T. industry or something – I don’t quite remember because I was still concentrating on the shrimp. After the woman left, Bob shook his head and whispered in my ear.
He began to explain how he thought the woman was someone that could provide some sort of work benefit for him, but turns out she couldn’t (i’m being purposely vague, because this really happened). Despite my disappointment, I continued to talk to him in hopes to get the “human” out of him. Partly because I was already quite emotionally invested in Bob, and partly because of this.
I began asking him more questions about his life, but he hardly budged. After he replied “work” as an answer to what he likes to do in his spare time, I left. As I was leaving, I bumped into the host of the event. I understand that, because of my genetics, I look like a pre-pubescent little zit and she probably wasn’t inclined to speak to me when I approached her. Still, it was hard not to feel slightly offended at how she promptly switched her attention away from me without really trying to connect.
I had a bitter taste in my mouth as I left the building. I thought about why I even went to the event in the first place; I wanted to make connections with real people – and eat some food – but the decision I made to go felt like a sacrifice. I figured that I’d go and make the best of a networking event, and maybe i’d meet someone I wouldn’t mind grabbing a coffee with.
I don’t go to networking events anymore. In fact, I don’t make any decisions that my gut tells me I’ll be uncomfortable with anymore. It sounds self-centred, but asking yourself what you want is often overlooked when it comes to running a business. You often find yourself asking, “what’s best for business? What does my audience want to hear? What do my clients want to see?” and so forth. This mentality muddles with your purpose and identity until you’re in a tailspin of crises and issues that take away from your freedom.
Even as I write this blog post, I know I’m blogging for myself. It’s an exhalation of my thoughts and ideas that are relieved – like a burden – off of my mind. Every time I finish writing, I feel a bit lighter. What i’ve also found is that the more i’ve practiced this, the more suited my friends, clients, and audience have become. It’s been a great way to weed out those that I would have difficulty naturally connecting with.
If you’re honest with yourself, you can never make a wrong decision. Sure, you might hit roadblocks and even experience failure because of these decisions, but it doesn’t make it wrong – it’s just another part of your journey towards finding the unity between your success and your truth. Learn to forget what your peers, your clients, or your audience want to hear or see, and just ask yourself, “what do I want it to look/sound/feel like? What do I need to make me happy?” and act on that answer. You’ll start to find out that people who are like you will begin to relate and respond to your actions more. And the more you do this, the more you’ll understand yourself. And the more you understand yourself, the easier it’ll be to always make the right decision.
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