Get Your Networking Skills Up to Par
The Importance of Professional Networking
What can I say about networking other than its a must in the business world? I remember eight years ago when I became Manager of Operations, my company signed me up for golf outings so that I could network with local business professionals.
I had been golfing a handful of times in my life, and that was only with my husband! So golfing with the corporate world was difficult for me, especially since Im a softball player and that involves a whole other kind of swing. Needless to say, I swung at the golf ball and missed quite a bit.
I realized that if I was going to network by playing golf, I needed to take golf lessons, so I did. Since then, Ive met a lot of good business people and Ive even won a few golf contests in the process.
The business associates that I golfed with were people I didnt know, but have now come to know very well. The person I was with in the golf cart has become not only a good friend, but also a good person to network with.
I say all of that to say this; Networking is important no matter what event youre involved in. Some people think that golf outings dont bring you business, but thats been proven incorrect in my field of tax and accounting.
Relationships are built by networking and helping people grow their businesses. Sometimes it takes a good year to develop a relationship of trust between two people, but once that happens, the referrals will flow back and forth.
There are a few points I would like to suggest as to how to get started with networking:
- Find a couple of organizations to join just to get involved with people (i.e. BNI, eWomenNetwork, Chamber of Commerce in your area).
- Figure out what type of industry would be best in your sphere of contacts (i.e. accountants, insurance agents, bankers, etc.).
- You should have around six different industries to network with at the least.
- Once you have your sphere in place, schedule one-on-one meetings with each individual just to get to know him or her (i.e. at least once a week is recommended for networking meetings).
- Remember, its not about you first, its about how you can help them grow their business. The philosophy is; Givers Gain.
- Once you are sincere about helping other people grow their business and seeing who you can send their way, the referrals will start coming in for you.
- Just make sure that you dont join an organization, only give it a few months, and then wonder why you never got anything out of it. If you dont meet with people and dont get involved, nothing will happen.
Networking for me has changed my life. Ive become more social than Ive ever been. It helps you get out of your shell if you are a shy person. I wasnt shy per say, but I was very intimidated by business people.
So regardless, if you network at a golf outing or a business after hours event, they all play a very important part of growing your business.