Research out of Harvard Business School has confirmed what most of us knew all along: building networks is a key part of what makes a successful entrepreneurial leader. So, how do we nail the art of building business success through networking?
Tory Archbold, host of the Powerful Stories podcast and founder of two global businesses, shares how she built both of her brands through coffee dates (often, not always) with strangers – and how you too can pull off this clever power move.
Set weekly networking coffee dates
If you want to expand your network, and perhaps even take it global, this strategy will change everything for you. Trust me: I’ve enjoyed over 3000 coffee dates, both in-person and virtual over the past two decades – and the connections I’ve made through this one simple act have been, quite honestly, life-changing.
We all spend so much time hiding behind our keyboards these days, but coffee dates allow you to be visible, to be seen and truly heard. Reaching out to like-minded women who share similar values or missions can be a wonderful learning experience, and a valuable way to leverage your own success via potential partnerships – not to mention just plain fun.
Want the exact formula I use when planning my weekly coffee dates? Here goes. Each week, aim to connect with the following people for a coffee, either in-person or via Zoom:
1) One within your network
Who is the most valuable person within your existing network of friends, colleagues or contacts that you could connect with to take your next powerful step?
2) One potential partner
Try reaching out to a professional contact, or someone who you share a mutual connection with. This one may be a little scarier, but it’s oh-so worth it. One such coffee date at Bambini Trust in Sydney is how I launched a successful brand partnership with Business Australia.
3) One outside your comfort zone
Now, it’s time to be bold. You can leverage email, LinkedIn, or request an introduction from a mutual contact to someone you would like to connect with. The bigger the leap, the more magic than often results. Case in point: a coffee date in LA with an agency partner is how I connected with Drew Barrymore to launch her Flower Beauty brand in Australia.
Notice how I said weekly coffee dates? Yep, it might sound like a lot of coffee, but consistency is what delivers the results. The power of connection and building authentic relationships is so vast that for me, I never underestimate the value that may come from a simple one-hour (or even 30-minute, if your schedule is tight) conversation. I build my coffee dates into my calendar not as an afterthought, but as an absolutely integral part of my schedule – because I’ve seen the results that can happen in terms of scaling my business.
Virtual connection also means that you can instantly connect to anyone in the world, minus the hassles of travel and parking. When you’re face-to-face, even if it’s via a screen, that’s when rapport is built and when personalized memories are created that you will both be able to draw on down the line.
Make networking a mutual exchange
Over the years I have built a strong reputation by committing to three coffee dates a week, because I wanted to connect with likeminded people, and I viewed them as a mutual exchange of energy. That is, I wanted to find out how I could support and serve each of the people I connected with over coffee. What this creates is a mutually beneficial relationship that stays strong long after we’ve clicked ‘leave meeting’.
If you want your coffee dates to deliver powerful results, ask the other person how you can help them. Then, in the weeks and months after your coffee date, keep the connection strong by engaging in advocacy for the other party, whether it’s leaving supportive comments on their LinkedIn posts, or sharing the news of their achievements with your own network.
Then? By building trust and goodwill among your ever-expanding network, you will continue to connect with the right people, and attract opportunities in alignment with what sets your heart on fire.
Want to join Tory Archbold’s community of likeminded female entrepreneurs seeking to thrive in business and in life? Boost your connections by signing up to the #coffeechallenge, right this way.