21 Oct Finding Your Tribe
Finding Your Tribe: Networking or Notworking?
Finding your tribe is one of those phrases that sounds so satisfying if you’ve done just that: found a group of people who support and inspire you. It’s a tribe of peers and yet there are still opportunities to learn from them. You get out of a warm, cosy bed in the darkest of winter mornings, just to have breakfast with them. You’ll rearrange your diary to get to an event, and you feel right at home the minute you walk through that door. It’s a place where you represent your business, but still feel that you can let your hair down, and for some strange reason you effortlessly slip into the sort of flirtation or banter that can elude you elsewhere. You could call it a tribe, your gang, a home from home, or even the family that you’ve chosen for yourself.
For me that tribe is Sister Snog, a business group of smart, sassy entrepreneurial women in London, where you don’t always talk business but business always gets done. What’s more, it’s always in the most glamorous of surroundings, Whether that’s Once Upon a Dinnertime in Dame Zandra Rhodes’ Penthouse, a fabulous First Friday lunch in Tooley Street or a Brainstorming Breakfast on Shaftesbury Avenue that focusses on improving your social footprint.
It’s not everyone’s style: there are definitely people for whom Sister Snog will not be right, and women who will not be right for Sister Snog. But that’s what finding a tribe is all about. You don’t just decide “ooh I want to be one of them”. It can’t be forced. It has to evolve in a delightful tango where you are each trying to work out if you make good dance partners. To be frank, this can take years for some people, whilst others seem to effortlessly become one of the gang at their first event. This isn’t just Sister Snog: you’ll find it in any group where the members work and play together, and have done over time.
I was recently invited to become a Member of The Sister Snog Advisory Board. We’re known as The Magnificent Seven. Our role is to brainstorm, support and advise Sister Snog on everything from improving members’ experiences to attracting new members. I was truly touched to have been asked, not least because it’s a lovely testimonial to being a woman in business. What’s more, the combined energy, talents and knowledge of all of us around that table was truly awe-inspiring, and for someone working alone, that’s quite a treat. It was at that point that it came home to me that I really had found my tribe.
But what if you haven’t found your tribe yet? How can you discover that elusive group?
- It doesn’t happen straight away. You don’t just join a group or go along to an event and feel it. It takes cultivation and a decision to take part and attend and contribute to the community. However, it can be obvious from the very beginning if it’s never going to work. Whether it’s the manic business card thrusters or the warm wine or just the fact that it clashes with your Zumba class and you know where you would truly want to be: you can just tell
- Take your time to get over your nerves. Any group where the members have known each other for a long time may seem cliquey. Ask the organisers to introduce you to someone to get you started: ask them for insider tips on what you need to know about the group to get the most out of it
- You get what you pay for. Free events can sometimes be full of freebie hunters who invest as little as possible in their business. If you’re not getting what you need and you’re only going to these type of free or low-cost events, consider putting together a budget for events and networking and upping your game to mingle with people who take things a little more seriously
- If you truly can’t find what suits you, consider starting your own tribe and handpick who you want to be your founder members. Yes, this will be hard work but you can create what supports you from the word “go”
- It doesn’t stop when you leave the event. Following up with emails, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and real life meets is vital to make the most of your membership and build those relationships. In my past few one to one meetings I’ve learned about naturist spas around Europe, had excellent advice about my teenage daughter and her apprenticeship and found an expert for my Expert Lists. It has meant getting off my proverbial and getting to events earlier but it’s not too much of an effort now, is it?
You can see my thoughts on Sister Snog here