It's really hard to build a business by yourself and you do need people to help you grow. And that comes in the form of doing some interior designer networking.
What you don't need are people who want to leverage your success to grow their business.
Yeah, I said it.
At this point in my entrepreneurial marathon, I own my value. I'm a valuable partner to have and I don't say that to blow smoke up my own ass. I say it now because I'm tired of getting pitched to. And I don't want you to get sucked into the fantasies of networking with those icky people.
For a few years now I unwittingly joined online masterminds filled with "those" people. You know the people. Out of the blue they see what you're doing and decide to become your BFF. They like what you're offering, wish they could grow their business a bit more, get access to your fans and jump into their "Networking Ninja" costume.
Sure, they have value to add, but they aren't interested in a relationship with you. They have targeted you mainly to grow their own business, not to help you grow yours.
Here's their most common moves:
They Say: "I've got an infographic your audience would love."
They Do: Only cheer you on when you're doing something they want to be a part of and ignore you the rest of the time leaving you feeling like the red-headed step child.
They Say: "I've got a blog post you'll want to share with your peeps."
They Do: Tag you online in everything they post annoying the ever living shit out of you.
They Say: "I've got a new app your clients will shit all over themselves to have."
They Do: Only email you when they've got something to pimp while they stay silent the rest of the year.
They Say: "I have a new service that your people won't be able to live without."
I'm sure at the end of the day that these people don't see themselves as icky networkers, but they are.
Interior Designer Networking Tip #1: Be Human
We are all real people living in a digital age. Just because we're not physically sitting in front another person, doesn't mean that there isn't a real life human being on the other end of the screen.
Don't forget that we are real people who aren't just a rung on the ladder to success.
Every business relationship that is successful is built on a friendship with a person. Not someone with X amount of followers or email subscribers. Do unto others... you know the rest.
Interior Designer Networking Tip #2: Get Interested
If there is someone that you really want to partner up with to grow both of your businesses, try being the person who gives till it hurts.
Try sharing and commenting on their posts. After all, if what they have to offer is awesome you'd share it for free, right? So start that relationship by giving in terms of sharing their awesome content. You're putting love into the business relationship tank and when the tank is filled with love, then you can start to move forward.
But, if they are just an ego maniac and never acknowledge you, move on and discontinue pimping their stuff at every turn. People watching you online may just think you're a creepy stalker.
Interior Designer Networking Tip #3: Be Selective
Not every relationship that may seem like a good one to grow, is. Take time to research the company. If they are new, hold off on a partnership until you see how (or if) the company grows.
Sometimes the next brilliant idea seems like it can't fail, and then the leader of the company does something that puts his company in a bad light and if you've hitched your wagon to it you're gonna get some side eyes from your peeps who trusted your word.
Sometimes the company is the next "cool kid" and everyone and their brother wants to pimp it. But you may not realize that they are all apart of just one big networking scheme and you could be their next pawn. Then when everyone stops drinking the Kool-Aid and finds out this is some piece of crap, guess who else will be a piece of crap?
And last point on this being 'selective' business... it takes time out of your schedule to network. If it's going to take you more time than it is worth or feels like a pain in the ass partnership, bow out. You don't have to say yes to everything (or everyone).
Interior Designer Networking Can Be Beneficial
If you specialize in colors, you can find a partner out there who does kitchen and bath design. Win-win. Find a complimentary business so no one feels like they are losing out on business.
Find good people who care as much about your business as you do. Make sure you're willing and able to care about their business, too. Your reputation is on the line.
Tell me, have you ever partnered up and it went downhill fast? Or was it a fantastic success? I'd love to hear what type of relationships you've built in the comments.
Alycia Wicker is an interior design business coach specializing in online marketing strategies.Her clients land more of their own dream clients and make more cash, period. Celebrity gossip whore. Elvis-obsessed.