Now, more than ever, it’s vital for businesses – small, medium or large – to maintain top-of-mind awareness. While Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are exploding as online tools for building relationships, they lack one very important component – a “live,” personal connection.
While I’ve written about face-to-face networking before, I feel it’s worth stressing its importance again. As Frank Agin, founder & president of AmSpirit Business Connections said, “LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool (as is the telephone and e-mail). It is not, however, a replacement for networking.”
“Networking is as human a trait as there is. Every human networks – no matter the region, culture, or religion. It is what we do. Humans have been networking since the beginning of our time on this planet,” he continued.
There’s great strength in shaking hands and exchanging information in person. Not only do you have the opportunity to meet like-minded professionals, but you get to engage with them through a meaningful live conversation. As you meet new people with interesting stories, take time to get to know them and begin building a relationship.
“While it is true that not everyone has the potential to be your new employer, next great client or star employee, it is also true that everyone knows someone that could,” continued Agin. “For that reason, every contact has opportunity . . . You need to make it a habit to have eye contact with, smile at and say hello to everyone you encounter.”
Networking is a critical & powerful tool to include in your marketing toolbox. Can you do it? Can you step away from your computer and get out? I know you can. Go ahead. Walk away from your desk and meet fellow professionals in your industry or in the community at large.
What does it take to be a good networker?
1. Decide where and when to network.
2. The willingness to take time out of your day to attend a meeting.
3. A smile, warm handshake and a friendly attitude. Reach out to people.
4. A sincere interest in others. Don’t forget to listen.
Believe it or not, even though where I live (i.e. the island of Kauai) is small, there are many opportunities to network. Just a few that hold meetings or events are the Kauai Chamber of Commerce, Kauai North Shore Business Council, Rotary Clubs (there are 6 on Kauai), or Zonta International (there are 2 clubs). And, there are more. Drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a list of some others on Kauai. Check around your community and I’m sure you’ll find even more opportunities. Go to meetup.com and see how many more meetings are taking place that you may never have even known about. “Meet up” groups are growing in popularity and popping up everywhere. Why? Because people like to meet one another face-to-face.
So, don’t be shy. Pick one or two groups that interest you and give them a “test drive.”
Then, when you find a group(s) or association(s) you like, GET INVOLVED. Many people join organizations, sit back and wait for business to come their way. However, customers don’t necessarily walk into your door just because you’ve become a member of their local chapter of the “ABC Association.”
A valuable way to network, while contributing to your community, is to volunteer. Serve on a committee (i.e. public relations, entertainment, programming, event planning, etc.) or request a seat on the Board of Directors. When you get involved you not only, create a common bond with others, but you give them the opportunity to:
• Find out who you are on a personal level.
• Learn more about your business (as you learn about theirs).
• Discover your capabilities.
Each time you connect with others you’re presented with a chance to share your expertise – without a sales pitch – and you’ll find that your network of contacts increases over time. The next time the phone rings (or you receive an e-mail inquiry), it may be from someone you met while networking. Or maybe you’ve never met that person, but someone you did meet referred him/her to you as the result of face-to-face conversations you’ve had.
Networking is just one ingredient in the marketing recipe for success. Take advantage of it, reach out to people, and have a good time while you’re at it.
What are you doing to network in your community (business or professional)?
If you’d like to network with me, feel free to give me a call at (808) 826 1846 or drop me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you & to meeting you in the future.