Why Networking is So Important & 3 Ways to Get Out There
How’s the old saying go? “It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know.”
Well, that’s true no matter where you are in your career or life in general! Whether you’re job searching or just trying to reach knew prospects and grow business connections it's logical to connect with others. Both online with social media or offline at networking events, one of the most important elements of your personal brand strategy should be to get out there and meet new people.
Familiarity is comfortable. When you meet up with people again it feels good to see someone you know. It’s important to remember that the best relationships don’t happen overnight. Well, some do - but that's the odd occasion. Most business relationships take time and dedication to grow and nurture into meaningful connections. Luckily though, we live in a world where there are so many tools we can use to tap into and grow our professional networks.
Today, it’s so easy to get lost in the noise of social media. That’s why we firmly believe that one of the best and most successful ways to grow your network is the good ol’ fashioned way of face-to-face networking. You’re able to read body language and pick up on cues that you wouldn’t be able to see hiding behind a computer screen. While social media may be great for showing others that you’re committed to bringing valuable information to the table, nothing quite beats a firm handshake paired with an intimate conversation. Your vibe attracts your vibe - and shocking but true - Most people are very different in person to how they are online.
What are some ways you can get out there and start networking in real life?
Professional associations are an excellent place to grow your network. They’re typically focused in on a specific industry. They're a great place to go to generate new ideas and exchange information amongst peers.
While joining an association in your industry can be excellent tool for professional growth and job searching, you may want to consider joining an association that reflects your target audience as well. Not only could you meet a new client, you can also learn about the latest trends within your target market and identify opportunities you might not know existed.
To get a sense of what associations might be the best for business growth, try asking some of your best clients what organizations they participate in. Ask why they decided to join that association over any others that might be available to them. This will help you to narrow down which association best aligns with the goals you’ve set out to achieve.
Giving back to your community is an excellent way to extend your network. Not only do you show your willingness to give selflessly, you’re also able to establish new connections (and the positive PR doesn’t hurt either).
While you can (and should) give your time to any organization you like, there are also some community service clubs that have been around for ages that allow you to establish a solid word-of-mouth network. Lions and Rotary Clubs are some of the most well-known community services clubs around. Many of these organizations are structured so that each member represents a profession, and among many other things, all members work to help one another grow their businesses.
Attend or Start a Meet-Up
Social media has become ingrained in our society. The number of virtual relationships we are able to build on LinkedIn and Twitter can grow exponentially, but you may be wondering how you can take your online relationships offline to start truly developing them into meaningful connections.
Meetups were designed for that very purpose. They help local individuals with similar interests connect in real life. You’re not only able to connect with people who already live in your social network, but they can also help you to meet individuals you’ve never had the pleasure to tweet.
If you find a local meetup and want to make sure you're getting the most out of your time, don’t forget that you get what you put into it. Say hello to existing friends, introduce yourself to someone new, or volunteer to present at the next meeting. Adding value with your participation will pay you back in dividends when you least expect it.
If you tap into your social network and find that there isn’t a local meetup already available for the target interest you’re after, start one up! You’ll prove to be a leader who is eager to help others connect.
What other ways do you network offline?
These are just a few of the options you have available to you to expand your network and establish meaningful relationships. What are some of your favorite ways to get out there and grow?