I discovered Networking years ago, way before I knew I would one day have my own business and most certainly years before I would come to understand it’s amazing power.
I was invited by a work colleague to attend an after-hours chamber meeting and looking back on it now I think I was both frightened and exited at the same time. It was pretty scary to be thrust into a room full of strangers looking very confident in their dress suits and proudly wearing that title on their name tag. Everyone was “working the room”, talking at the same time and everyone I met had something important to say about themselves while asking me who I was and what I did for a living.
The exciting part was that they all appeared to be intelligent, professional people doing something meaningful and going somewhere big. They seemed to be realizing their dreams and on the pathway to success. At that time, I was probably a little lost, still struggling to figure out who I was, where I fit in and where I was going. I remember wondering if maybe this new connection to this group of energetic and passionate people on a mission could somehow help me discover my own path and answer my own questions.
It was actually several jobs and many years later that I would once again encounter networking on a deeper and more personal level. I say personal because even though it was business networking, since it was my own business I was representing, it was much more personal to me and of greater importance. This time I listened, I watched and I desperately tried to learn as much as I could so that I could better navigate the room and make the most of those connections and my time.
Fast forward to eleven years later and I’ve now managed to get a much better understanding of both in person and online networking via social media. I’ve made it a point to observe what works and what doesn’t while along the way learning from both my mistakes and those of others. I’ve encountered groups that worked very well for me and helped me grow my business and some not so much.
After all these years I don’t think there’s a secret recipe or a perfect list of do’s and don’ts to make it a perfectly successful experience. I don’t think that there’s one perfect networking group that fits everyone but rather it’s an exploration of discovering what works for us at the various stages of our growth and development. I believe that what might be a perfectly good fit for one person might not work so well for another. So it’s important to research, test the waters and ask lots of questions before making a commitment.
In time I have come to understand that networking can be a very valuable tool that helps you not only grow your business but grow as a person as well. I believe networking is a wonderful way to make invaluable connections, friendships and even successful business partnerships. Just like in life, I believe that everyone we meet along the way has either something to teach us or is learning from us. Surprisingly most of the time we’re doing both simultaneously, whether we realize it or not.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that networking isn’t about selling but rather about building relationships. People are more likely to buy from someone they trust and connect with and those connections often take time to establish. I have noticed that when we strive to be of service and help others in our line of work rather than “make a sale”, success actually comes quicker and with better results.
It’s very important to take the time to listen to people. That saying comes to mind of: You have two ears and two eyes but only one mouth so you should listen and observe twice and much as you speak. That definitely is something that is very helpful in networking and in maximizing its power.
The truth is that no one wants to be sold to and the worst thing we can do and the quickest way to fail at networking is to immediately jump into making a quick sale. Everyone has had that annoying and salty social media experience where someone immediately inboxes you with their sales pitch minutes after you accept the friend request. Nothing says “I don’t really care about you and I’m only here to make a sale” faster than a link and a pressured sales pitch. Those people I tend to delete and dismiss rather quickly.
When we take the time to actually listen to people and discover who they are, what they offer and what they need we can learn so much. When our heart is genuinely aligned with helping others instead of helping ourselves we discover that we can actually make great connections to a number of people and ultimately the blessings come back around our way. Maybe the person we meet today isn’t a potential client but rather a great fit for someone we met with last week and in making that connection and supporting their success our name will come up in a future conversation when someone needs exactly what we are offering and just like that, our name is passed on and an easy sale comes our way.
Networking is like a garden that we tend to with care and over time we begin to reap the rewards of what we nurtured and watered. It’s the perfect space for us to simply share who we are, what we offer and what we’re looking for while helping others find what they’re looking for as well. Sometimes we immediately have a need to use a product or service and sometimes after we connect for the third or fourth time we realize – “Maybe I should try this or buy that” here from her, instead of picking it up on my way home or ordering it online.
Maybe it has nothing to do with business and everything to do with being someone’s angel or support in that moment. Networking is a human connection and in those connections we will encounter a little bit of everything. The best tip I can give you is to tap into your humanity and ask you to treat everyone with compassion and respect understanding that we are all deeply complex individuals just trying to make the most of our journey.
Use the law of attraction to manifest that which you focus on and already are. Networking both in person and online multiplies your reach and expands your experience as well as your opportunities. Being honest and authentic from the start and taking the time to cultivate meaningful connections while remaining open to the amazing possibilities and being grateful every step of the way is the best recipe for success that I can give you today. Be positive, be consistent, follow up, follow through and don’t be afraid to say yes and most definitely don’t be afraid to say no.
Good luck and happy networking, you got this!