Networking. For some of us, the word conjures images of slick haired sales people pressing business cards into our sweaty palm. It’s about going to “Events”. Listening to elevator speeches. Making yourself stand out. Stale cheese plates. Ugh.
The truth is that networking is something that happens every day if we choose to take advantage of a more natural, relationship-based point of view. Think about these four categories of people with whom you can establish relationships.
Clients are a natural part of our network. They have paid us well for performing a service, and it’s smart to keep in touch. They may need services down the road, or be able to refer to you people they know. We’ve heard it a thousand times – it’s easier to provide services to existing clients than it is to find a new ones.
Peers and colleagues are another good source of networking partners. Attending NAPO-WDC chapter meetings and neighborhood groups allow us to develop deep professional relationships that grow over time. Colleagues are also good referral sources – many of us consistently use each other for overflow projects or subcontracting.
Mentors and more experienced organizers are a valuable resource for all of us. Whether you’re a newbie or have been in business for years, we all learn from one another. Let’s use our collective experience to help each other be more successful.
Traditional networking groups are also valuable places to gain trusted, like-minded business referrals. Find a group that is a good fit for you, and work at establishing relationships that grow both your business and the businesses of others. People generally love to help someone who is willing to extend themselves for the benefit of another.
Real networking is about cultivating relationships that have mutual value. Find the people in your life who make that happen, and focus on helping each other.