It’s spring time and the time of year when many of us do our “spring cleaning” or begin to purge, to make way for new and fresh environments in our homes or work life. Purging or decluttering isn’t just about getting rid of material things, it’s about making decisions and changes that allow you to free up time, to free yourself to reach the goals you’re trying to achieve. These decisions are hard but can bring freedom and open the doors to success. I’ve been making some decisions with regard to how I connect with people.
Networking is a huge part of the entrepreneurial life as well as any successful business person. One's success can depend upon the relationships that develop while reaching across to others in different lines of business. Here are just a few things to consider when joining a networking group. First, there are a multitude of networking groups. Some require membership dues and just as many that are low cost or free. Some are very structured and require a minimum number of contacts, others do not. Before joining a group, visit as many times as possible in order to determine the business lines of the membership. Engage with the members. Are they open to new members? Are they friendly, are they interested in your profession? If not, keep moving, the group isn't interested in growing their businesses. Once you find a group, reassess on a regular basis.
What does this have to do with hard decisions? Spring cleaning or decluttering?
I was a member of a networking group for four years. I loved this group. It was the first group I joined after I began my business. It gave me an opportunity to leave my home (away from my computer) to be amongst other like minded individuals who were all interested in growing their businesses. I had conversations with others who were experiencing the same growing pains that I was going through. I made many friends, and my sphere of contacts grew. But my business did not.
I remained with this group because it was one of the largest groups in the area. It was also affordable when I paid for my membership. (At times, my membership was free in exchange for Admin services.) The group was not rigid in structure and didn't require a minimum number of meetings a month or year and I was not required to meet with a minimum number of members either. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe it isn't. I knew though, that I wasn't looking to having to meet a quota of meetings just to get to know the roster. I wanted to develop real relationships.
I did. But... Your friends are not your target market.
Therein comes the decluttering, the purging, spring cleaning. After four years, I had to move forward. I needed to either grow my business or give it up. It took me a year to make this decision. It weighed heavily on my heart. I felt as if I would be giving up possible business, that I would lose friends, that I wouldn't have the human interaction that I craved every so often. I mean, I can only stand so much of me. Seriously. My husband works the normal 8-5 (well, that's the "hours" he works) and we have the usual routine in the evenings but the days are long when it is just me. So giving up that bi-weekly meeting time was hard. I prayed for direction.
I finally did it. There were other circumstances, that factored in, tipped the scale to giving up my membership but, ultimately, I knew that in order for me to grow, I must move forward. I discussed this with my closest friends, only four people knew that I was contemplating leaving the group. When I stood up to give my commercial at my last meeting, I took a moment to say thank you to everyone, to express how much they had a part in how they way I had grown, and announced that it was my last meeting. Most were extremely surprised.
I was pleased that I made it through my announcement without getting emotional. I enjoyed the last meeting but was surprised as I walked away. I felt so much lighter, free, unrestricted. Why?
Because God works in mysterious ways. He allowed me to declutter my mind, my schedule, my reasons and way of business to bring me two new clients as I left the meeting that day. I felt this was His way of reassuring me that I was getting out of my own way and allowing Him to work in my life to ensure the plans He has for me.
Decluttering brings clarity whether you're purging the contents of your home, the contents of your calendar, or the people you think you need in your life.
Make the hard decisions, clarity and freedoms await.