For many people attending an event with the expectation of talking to strangers and making new contacts is not their idea of a good time. I’m one of those people who actually likes networking and have first hand experience enjoying the success that can come from it.
Like it or not, many of us are involved in networking in one way or another. If you are a business owner or in a position to bring new business to the company you work for, then networking is part of your job description. If you’re a young professional looking to break into an industry, networking should be your part-time job. If you serve on a board or are involved in a charitable organization or cause, networking is your middle name. Either way, knowing how to take advantage of the contacts you make and growing your personal and professional brand in the community is essential and networking plays a huge role in your success.
When I left news reporting and began working in public relations, I wanted to learn more about the industry and meet other professionals in Tallahassee. I decided to join the Florida Public Relations Association Capital Chapter…five years later I’m serving as president of the organization, have attained my accreditation in public relations (APR) and have grown as a professional. This happened because I was able to step out of my comfort zone and into a room of strangers who I now call my colleagues and friends.
I’m also a proud member of the Junior League of Tallahassee. Through my involvement with this wonderful organization, I have received invaluable training, helped make a real, measurable difference in the community and made life-long friends. When I joined the League I hardly knew anyone. Today I am happy to say that some of my closest friends are fellow Leaguers and I’ve even made business contacts through the JLT.
In Tallahassee, we are very lucky to have a close-knit community and a host of professional groups and associations with which to get involved. From the Chamber to the Network of Young Professionals to the Tallahassee Film Festival and the Business and Professional Women of Tallahassee, there is a group out there for you. So figure out what you’re interested in, find a group of people or an organization that fits the bill and get involved. Who knows, in a few years you may be running the organization! Cheers.
Great post. I am totally with you about the value of networking.
But here’s a question: do you always have a “goal” when you are in a networking scene? I find it difficult to really enjoy a conversation once a goal or a expectation is set. Thoughts?
Evelyn, I approach networking with a goal to be myself, have fun and hopefully make new contacts. I don’t like to put too much pressure and make the conversation all about business or getting something out of the person. I like to try and build a relationship with the person first, maybe go for coffee or lunch, get to know them, be a resource and then if there is an opportunity for a business connection that’s a plus. I am more interested in building a strong network of friends, resources and supporters in a genuine way rather than having a business agenda. If you’re a friend and a resource, the business will come. Word of mouth is so strong! Good luck.