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How to Network without Feeling Sleazy or Forced

For the longest time I really put off networking because I thought it was SO cheesy, forced and just not my scene.

I’ve heard from a lot of you that you also share similar sentiments BUT networking can really be amazing for generating bookings quickly especially if you’re just starting out, or if you’re new to a place and don’t really know people!

Today, I’m going to take you through how you can network in a more modern way that feels a lot more genuine with a lot less pressure. It’s gonna work to bring you bookings, build your community, and start to build your network.

I have to say; once I started networking like this, my feelings completely changed. Because I realized…networking is just meeting new people. Expanding your network so you know more people. Sometimes we attach so much more meaning to it and it gets really scary.

But when you can reframe it as just meeting people, whether personally or professionally, it feels a lot better (even if you’re an introvert). You remove the expectation and pressure and it becomes a lot more fun.

Before I take you through the phases of networking and what to do, I want to quickly cover one important point about networking.

There are actually two ways you can network – personally and professionally.

1) When we think of networking we always first think of networking professionally. First as a professional in a work related setting whether it’s a formal networking event, business course or reaching out as a practitioner. That’s ONE option.

2) You can also network personally which is the same but the circumstances where/how you’re meeting people from a personal perspective. Not as a “professional” first…just as you. This might be on teams, in clubs or community groups you’re in. It’s basically just like meeting people and hanging out firstly for personal use. 

With these in mind, you can decide which one will make more sense for you based on where you naturally show up, your interests, your niche and personal preference.

Now I want to get into the phases of navigating networking in a way that feels more genuine, with less pressure, and will actually lead you to bookings. And you’ll notice these phases flip flop between just normal relationship building and marketing/business building. We sandwich the marketing stuff in between the relationships so it fits in seamlessly and feels less like a sales pitch. 

Here we go!

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PHASE ONE: People need to like you

You may have heard before that people need to like and trust you to want to work with you. It’s true. Now, when we say that, people actually really need to like you. So the very first phase is building rapport with people. Getting to know them and vice versa.

Because if people don’t like you, they’re not going to refer you. They’re not going to want to work with you. And the more people like you as a person, the more they’re going to refer you or work with you or trust you with their family or friends.

So, we really want to start from a place of getting to know people. If it’s on social media, just comment on things and start conversations. If it’s just in real life groups, whether personally, professionally, find common ground.

How do you do this? Ask questions. People like talking about themselves. So ask questions, start to get to know people and then you can reciprocate and answer the same question.

Ask the questions that you want to answer too, because you know, people will usually then say like, “Oh, what about you?”.

All you have to think about here is to start being friends. See if you hit it off with them. And if you don’t, you don’t need to take it further. If you aren’t clicking, then it’s probably not going to be a great referral partnership anyway.

PHASE TWO: Make it clear what you do and how you can help

Now here is where we sandwich in JUST a bit of marketing. People need to be clear what you do and how you can help. We never want people to say, months down the road, something like, “Oh, I had no idea you did that!”.

Make what you do, who you work with, how you can help SUPER clear but also mention it in a casual way. Because then people will be like, “Oh cool. I know someone for that” or “Oh, I could use that”. And it’s just starts the wheels spinning.

If you don’t know how to bring this up, ask them the question, “What do you do?” or “How’s that going?” And then they’ll either ask it back to you or you can just like throw in your own 2 cents and share your “I help” statement.

Need help with your “I help” statement? (Or don’t even know what it is?!)

If you don’t really know how to make your I help statement, I have a template and some examples in today’s resource. Comment below and I’ll send that over to you so that you can create a super solid statement that helps you become memorable, referable and bookable!

PHASE THREE: Build trust

When we talk about trust, it’s actually more like belief. People need to really believe that you can help them or you can get the results you say you do. Usually, when people don’t want to work with you or they aren’t super enthused it’s because they don’t actually believe that you can help them.

And it’s not necessarily anything that you’ve done or haven’t done. It’s just sometimes you haven’t built that trust yet. You haven’t built that credibility so that they truly believe that you can help them.

So this goes back to rapport building, and building that credibility. You can share your knowledge, share testimonials, case studies, give them a little taste of what it is you do. Whether that’s by offering a free service or by just offering some of your knowledge for free.

This trust building can be instantaneous or it might take a few weeks. It depends on the scenario that you’re in. All of these steps might take one conversation or it might be a series of weeks. You have to feel it out.

Another great way to add credibility and build trust is when people see you showing up in other places. Like if you are in the same group but then they also see you on social media and maybe one of their friends mentions you or goes to you. And that’s why I say, choose a few places in your marketing where you’re going to be showing up so that you can be hitting people multiple ways. That in itself builds that trust.

PHASE FOUR: Make an offer

The final step is always to make an offer. Give people an opportunity to work with you. Sometimes (especially when networking personally) you need to do this multiple times. You need to make that reminder or that suggestion.

Doing this personally and professionally can look a little bit different. How you make that offer personally, it’s just the next time it comes up. For example, if someone mentions something related you can say, “If you need help with XYZ, you can book a session with me” or “Let’s chat.”

Give them that opportunity and make that offer so that you don’t wind up in the “friends zone” where you become too close, they don’t feel comfortable working with you (it happened). When you make that offer, it feels easier for them to take that step. And when you make it multiple times, it feels even easier for them to take that step. So, make sure you’re letting them know how they can work with you if they need.

Professionally, your offer is a suggestion as to how you can work together. Collaborating, cross-promoting, doing a giveaway, or become referral partners.

Ideally, with professional networking, you always want it to be a win-win so that they’re inclined to actually do it!

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So, that’s basically the process! When networking, you’re sandwiching getting people to like you, getting them to trust you, which is just conversation and relationship building than marketing. 

After they like you, you share your I help statement, this is what I do, this is how I can help so that they’re clear.

Get them to try, trust you and then make that offer. Give them opportunities, make the suggestion of how they can work with you. And that’s why you always want to be really clear on what you actually offer so that when you make that suggestion, it’s also very clear.

If you want to learn the 4 steps my clients are using to build fully booked practices (without having the marketing take over their life) check out the free training below. And as always, feel free to comment below or DM me on Instagram if you have any questions.





I'm Kate Matheson

Clinic owner and business coach helping you build a thriving, fully booked health + wellness practice without burning out.

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