With the popularity of entrepreneurial ventures and the boom of online businesses, the topic of “networking” seems to be coming up more and more. Everywhere you look there are numerous articles explaining the importance of it and the perks of it, yet many people I talk to are still very reluctant to apply it to their lives. Perhaps the reluctance stems from not having a true understanding of what networking really is.
Networking is essentially meeting new people and generating conversation about your careers, projects, and ideas. Networking sounds easy but the challenge comes when you apply it to your everyday life.
In the last few years I have come to see the benefits of ‘networking’ and I am so glad for the connections I have made and the friendships that have blossomed. The word networking may seem intimidating which is why I believe it is so important that people understand that it is all about meeting new people, having conversations and making a connection.
In my experience, while working for a large corporation along with two businesses on the side, I am constantly meeting new people and learning about them, what their interests are, and essentially ‘throwing ideas around’. Just by starting conversations, I have had the pleasure of collaborating with some amazing individuals. Those connections led me to opening new business ventures and starting new career paths along the way.
So, my advice for networking and building these relationships would be:
- Be authentic and sincere when meeting new people. You never know when you may be in a position where you will need them, and you never know, they may be your next close friend.
- Find out their story. You can learn a lot about someone and their thought process from learning about their past. Share your story and find ways to relate to each other in the conversation. I have found that tends to break the ice and will allow you relate to each other on a common ground.
- Express your interest and goals you have. You never know who may be able to help you or if the person you are speaking with can connect you with someone that can help you reach your goals and further explore your interest.
- Throw some ideas around and ask questions and offer to help the other person if you can. If you have a connection that can help the person you are speaking with help them to create a relationship with your connection.
- Last, get their contact information and send them a follow up email or text after the conversation. A simple, “It was nice to meet you yesterday, please let me know if you need anything” or follow up with “I would love to grab a coffee some time and chat more when you are available.” That opens the door to continue the relationship and it shows them that you value their time and input.
See, networking is not that intimidating when you break it down. The way I look at networking and creating relationships with people is that you can never have too many connections. By meeting people and building relationships you learn so much about people, you expand your viewpoint, you learn new skills, and become a more educated and well-rounded person.
Remember, majority of us are uncomfortable when meeting new people and even if we are comfortable there was a time when we struggled with it.
“It is always a no unless you ask”, so what’s there to lose? If there is someone you would like to meet or want to create a relationship with, reach out to them. You will be surprised by how often it works.
If you would like to reach out to me, please feel free to contact me.
Matt Poe, co-owner