Most people that know me... know I'm a bit of a rebel. If I don't enjoy doing something, I don't do it, despite the 'current' trends.
That includes... hiding behind the computer to build my business. It seems it's the latest rage.
Why this is great for some, I soon found out, it wasn't so great for me... because I love being around people.
Now don't get me wrong. I love technology. It allows me to work with my clients no matter their location and connect with amazing people throughout the world, but nothing can compare to going out to networking events while meeting and connecting with people... face to face.
The excitement and energy buzzing around with other entrepreneurs and small business owners is truly inspiring, not to mention, the opportunities for business and joint ventures that arise due to meeting and personally connecting.
I also discovered... in a sea of 'sameness'... getting out and sharing about my mission in business, actually sets me apart by bringing a new awareness to me and my business that could never happen from behind the computer screen.
When I tell people I actually leave my house to attend live networking events... that depending on the area I'm going to... may include a 2 hour commute in San Francisco Bay traffic... I usually get a look as if I have a third eye.
I began to wonder... how many other women entrepreneurs prefer doing business the 'old-fashioned' way by getting out from behind the computer... so I asked. What I soon found out was this... more and more women are finding that getting out of the office and connecting in person has made a huge difference in their business.
Violette de Ayala, CEO & Founder of Femfessionals, an innovative business community for women entrepreneurs, found that face to face is the key to their programs because it helps to truly unite women and develop a sisterhood of business.
Ayala says, "Corporate professional women have the opportunity to interact daily in the office. However, that is not the case for most women entrepreneurs. The results from this face to face connection vs. the computer mode of contact is incredible in establishing business connections. Every time women gather person to person, business growth occurs for all involved. Social media and emails can then be used to support and facilitate the maintenance of that relationship. The in-person connection can't truly be replaced. We have thousands of women in our community that understand the value of face to face. It works!"
Lisa Calhoun, CEO of Write2Market, along with her CTO, Jean-Luc van Hulst, has learned ways to dovetail and dashboard critical information so they can spend less screen time and more person time.
Calhoun says, "The computer can give us entrepreneurs an artificial sense of scaling your business when it's really just messing with the icing. Using a computer to much is like picking at the frosting on a frosted cake -- you can rearrange and rearrange your impression, but it doesn't really make a difference in how the cake TASTES which is the whole point of the cake. I make a point to block hours in my calendar for business walks, lunches, and after-hours events -- and of course, the regular company meetings like our employee and managers meetings. I find the computer an extremely useful tool but it won't tell you if you are over using it. The fact is, as an entrepreneur, selling the vision internally and externally is my job. The computer is convinced -- it is people that make a difference in the trajectory of my business."
After 20 years in IT and in Corporate America, Saili Gosula made an exciting career change into more of a people business. A single mother of two, Gosula bought a SYNERGY HomeCare franchise - part of a national in-home care company. After leaving the bustling offices of Gap, Inc., the excitement soon faded. Gosula found herself alone in her Synergy HomeCare office - staring at her computer screen trying to figure out how to get her business off the ground.
Gosula says, "The phones weren't ringing. My client list was bare. One day I decided to unplug and make some face-to-face connections in the community. I reached out to the local Chamber of Commerce, met other small business owners and joined several referral groups."
These personal connections helped people realize Gosula was the real deal - a woman who had a passion for helping the elderly and cared deeply about making a difference. Word of Gosula's in-home care business spread quickly and clients soon came calling. Her decision to ditch the computer as her main source of networking was one of the best she has ever made. Her business is growing by leaps and bounds.