The Avengers. The Justice League. It seems like even our superheroes are networking and coming together to support one another.
What is Networking
Networking is not just for the outgoing and gregarious person. It’s for all of us, including me, an introvert.
When you think of networking, what are some of the words that come to your mind?
For me, I went back to the days of being a Marketing Manager and going to crowded rooms, schmoozing, having rubber chicken dinners, all dressed-up. These events were luncheons or after-hours business card exchanges where I felt forced to chit-chat.
This post isn’t about the first two, even though you can connect with people online through a variety of technologies and platforms, today I want to talk to you about the “old fashion” in-person networking.
Why I Started To Network (Again)
Like I mentioned above, my introduction to networking 12 years ago was negative.
I have since changed my mind about in-person networking because the life that I have created for myself involves doing most of my work by myself in my home office. I like it. I like it a lot.
I enjoy the work I do as a web designer at ESGgraphics.com. When I went full-time, I realized I would need help meeting business owners and those without websites. I was invited by a friend to visit a networking group.
I was hesitant at first because I held many of those previously mentioned negative thought, but I needed to grow my business so I went with him.
During the last 5+ years, I have come to really enjoy the networking groups that I am a part of. As far as my business, I looked at my income so far this year, more than 90% of it came from networking relationships (including past clients).
3 Reasons You Should Being Networking (In-Person)
Below are some of their responses.
Reason #1: Relationships
This was by far the response that was given the most. Phrases like “Connecting with people”, “Meeting News Business Owners”, “Building Relationships” were repeated.
One respondent noted that “[n]etworking allows for positive relationships to grow and us to recognize how we can help one another to grow our businesses.”
I have made some very good friends with people that I would not have met if I hadn’t gone to a network group or event.
Reason #2: Business Building
Since the networking groups I attend are for business professionals, it didn’t surprise me that business building or “growing my business” was popular.
One of the responses was “Would you like to tell 15-20 people what you do every week?”
The answer is, who wouldn’t?
This is a great way to expand your sales force.
When I am working with a prospect or a client, I often hear them talking about other problems that are not related to web design or social media. It is then that a name from one of my networking groups often pops into my head that I can then offer as a resource for my prospect or a client.
Also, think how often you ask a friend for a referral. When you go to have work done around your house or are looking for a good place to eat, we ask people for recommendations. Networking helps build business.
Reason #3: Advice
One respondent stated that they liked being in a networking group since it gave them “the ability to learn and ask questions with little pressure.”
In our groups, we do a brief (30 to 60-second) introduction about who we are and what we do. We usually then end with asking for introductions to a certain industry.
Other times, instead of asking for a referral, we ask the group for help with a question. Since these groups have diverse members, we can get input from people with similar experience. Sometimes, our question is answered by a member who is a specialist in that field.
That kind of free advice would have cost me quite a bit if I had to pay for it.
Building Your Network
You can certainly network online. I would challenge you to try networking in real life.
As I mentioned in Countdown to TribeConf 2017, I will be going to Jeff Goins’ Tribe Conference in September.
In a closed Facebook group, Jeff posted “One thing you’re excited about for Tribe 2017. Go!”
I replied “Seeing people in person. After ‘knowing’ them online, it will be fantastic to see them in person, take some pictures, and really connect. This goes for fellow attendees and the speakers.”
The overwhelming majority of replies could be summed up by one member who said “Building IRL(in real life) relationships with people I know online!”
You don’t need to have superhuman powers to form a super network.
A good network, regardless of whether it’s “just a business group”, an online community, or a group at church, is really just a circle of friends.
How do you network? Please leave a comment below.