Carved pumpkinI wanted to write something about Halloween since it’s coming up so soon, but there’s another topic on my mind I’d like to share instead. So, I’ll leave you with the picture of the pumpkin I carved last year and move on to my topic.

Two meetings. Two very different outcomes.

I’m an entrepreneur virgin so I’m not aware of all the ins and outs of business social etiquette, but I got a big lesson this week that I’d like to pass along to other entrepreneurs out there.

I’m proud to be a part of Edmonton’s small business community. Most of the people are warm and inviting, answering my many questions with a smile. They forgive my faux pas, of which I’m sure there are many, and are interested in what I have to say. They’re a wealth of information and welcome everyone.

Well, most of Edmonton’s small business community.

I’ve become very active in local business meetup opportunities. It’s not only a good way to get new ideas, but you can find people to help grow your business. Of course, I’m in the initial phase of my business so money is a factor so I attend the ones where cost is minimal. If I order water, I look at everyone and smile. After all, I’m there to meet them.

The first meetup I went to this week was held at a local pub. Edmonton has some great pubs with a lively atmosphere so I wasn’t concerned. When everyone arrived, I learned I was the only woman. Okay. Time to turn on the charm.

I will leave out the details of the first meeting save to say that it did not end well. I’m outspoken and opinionated. Not without cause, those opinions I vocalize I have thought long and hard on and know what I am talking about. Is that arrogant? Perhaps. I’m also a writer and that is not a craft for the fainthearted.

In that meeting I felt uncomfortable and wished I’d never gone. I understood what they were trying to do; they were trying to build those deep connections that every business owner wants. However, those take time.

You know the kind I’m talking about. These are the connections that have taken months to build. One meeting at a time. One handshake at a time. One email at a time. One conversation at a time. They take work and perseverance. They don’t come overnight. However, if you do them right, they can last a very, very long time. These are connections that matter.

The second meetup I went to was a different as oil is from water. It was held at Cibo Bistro in Edmonton. Let me take a moment to sing Cibo Bistro’s praises. The food was amazing and fresh. The staff was friendly and helpful and the atmosphere was calming but modern. I was fascinated by a rack of wine up on the wall that not only stored the wine, but also doubled as a work of art. Anyone who likes wine will understand what I mean.

The people at the second meetup were professional and warm. They were as fascinated by me as I was by them. They had some great ideas and helped me to learn some fascinating things. I loved being able to exercise my mind and the feeling of being embraced into their community. Even though I was in jeans and a t-shirt and everyone else was in business attire, no one seemed to mind. For those who know me, this comes as no surprise that I would wear jeans and a t-shirt. I don’t do business attire any longer as it really isn’t me. I have been known to don a skirt now and again, but suits are out of the question.

The second meetup was so amazing that I immediately emailed the leaders and asked if I could go to more. I was kicked out of the first meetup group.

I’ve learned some valuable lessons this week for which I’m very grateful and it’s these I wish to pass along.

  • Always be yourself. If that means jeans and a t-shirt while everyone else is in ties, so be it. Just be genuine and avoid the 70s used car salesman approach. Just make sure that the genuine you is respectful and polite.
  • Listen carefully to others. Everyone likes to be heard. Make sure you hear them. If you don’t understand, ask a question. People like to answer questions, it shows you want to know them.
  • Speak up. If there’s something wrong or if you feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to say something.
  • Positives attract positives. It’s okay to get rid of the toxins in your life. It’s okay to only include positive people who will add to your life. This has nothing to do with building your business and everything to do with you. However, think about this; if your life is filled with poisonous and toxic people, how healthy will your business be?

These are lessons that I will carry with me for a very long time. As I go forward from this place, I will continue to make connections with people that I will build, slowly over time. In this instant world we live in it seems opposite to what we’ve come to expect. However, sometimes the old ways are the best ways. Slow and steady builds a sturdier relationship than fast and fleeting.