Networking is important for personal and business expansion. It’s the difference between access to resources or trying to make it out on your own. No matter how one tries to conduct their transactions, you’ll always find that reaching out to others is the best way to serve.
Not all networking is beneficial, though. I remember first starting out as a financial literacy consultant and heading out to networking events for exposure. Professionals would line up with unsolicited proposals that had nothing to do with my work goals or needs. That goes for the personal referrals I received through emails and social media. Many times, the pitch from these guys was, “Here’s what I can do for you,” as opposed to, “This is how we can work together”. Sometimes I still run into those types of experiences now, which prompted me to change my online profiles to bluntly explain what it was I was looking for and not what you, whoever it is, thinks I need.
I’ve come a long way since those days when I accepted every business card thrust in my face. I’m more selective, and it’s lessened the level of frustration I grew accustomed to. For one thing, quality and not quantity is what I look for when networking with other professionals. Basically, if you can’t serve my clients, I’m not wasting my time.
So maybe I don’t have a draw full of business cards anymore, but the few relationships I’ve come to develop go a long way in helping me service my clients, who are the key decision factors in all of my business affairs. And if I come across a business card I don’t need, I simply share it with the connections who can benefit from that relationship. And, mind you, you won’t find me networking at large events anymore, but having private meetings with potential partners and starting a relationship that way. It works for me and my introverted ways, especially since it takes time for me to warm up to others and open up to them. Trusting my clients with external partners is something I take seriously, so trust is another important factor. Delivery is just as important too, since I’m done with the self-promoting strategies of the past.
My word of advice for any professional starting out is to take time to set goals and understand your needs – and stick to that. It’s easy to want to please everyone at first when you’re on the market, so to speak, but that attitude will have you losing sight of your goals in no time. Instead, do some research and determine what it is you’re trying to accomplish and work with that. You’ll find as I did that quality trumps quantity any time.