The Importance of Networking
As a Business Development Associate, networking is a huge part of my job. Oftentimes, the importance of networking is overlooked. However, I once had a great manager tell me “People do business with you because they like and trust you.” The question to follow up on that statement is “How do you get people to like and trust you?” The answer is get out there and let them get to know you.
There are several avenues for networking. I personally feel that the Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start. Usually the Chamber offers a variety of programs that will allow you to get involved. They also often host several events such as breakfast and biz or after hours socials that are convenient for a variety of schedules. Trade association meetings are also always a great place to network, because you already have something in common with other attendees.
Once you have identified your networking environment, you then actually network. I will be the first person to say that it is never easy to walk into a room where you do not know many people, if any, and introduce yourself. However, you have to push yourself to meet as many people as you can. Not only meet them but take the opportunity to tell your story. Give them the story of your business. Also, be sure and listen to others as well.
Also, remember a lot of the power of what you personally do is how you remember people and how you follow up with them. I’ve met all kinds of people at events before, but because I don’t follow up with them in some way, I’m not remembered (and I don’t always remember them). A nice email, personal call, or card can go a long way.
The secret to the art of networking is the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The next time you attend this event you will at least have a foundation of people you met last time you were there. You will eventually develop a circle of contacts that you will see on a regular basis, and when the need arises, they will hopefully have your name and brand on the top of their mind.