Why Successful People Still Need to Network
Aug 1, 2022 by
For many people the word "networking" conjures up visions of large meeting halls full of strangers passing out and collecting business cards. Or perhaps they envision a post-Covid Zoom meeting where dozens of strangers recite elevator pitches to each other.
To make matters worse, it seems like half of these people are out of work and desperately looking for their next job while the other half are trying to sell something. If you own or manage a company why on earth should such an activity be of interest to you? It may not be, but that doesn’t mean you should put “networking” at the bottom of your priorities list.
Here’s how to get the most out of three networking opportunities that can not only increase public awareness of your company, but may prove to be your most effective route to growth.
1. Join a local business association in your industry or/and community and become an active committee member.
Networking for business is just that. It’s not about showing up an annual golf event or an occasional breakfast meeting. It has a purpose – to build connections with influential people in your industry and community and by so doing make your business (and you!) more influential in turn. To do that, you first have to prove your worth by investing time, energy and sometimes funds in the effort.
By volunteering to help an organization – whether it’s a professional association, your local Chamber of Commerce, educational institution or a non-profit – you’ll have a chance to demonstrate your leadership, knowledge and ability to get things done in real time. Eventually your efforts could make you eligible for board membership. Becoming a board member will significantly raise your personal profile and that of your company, enabling you to interact with an even higher level of contacts than before.
Tip: As a committee member you’ll actually be expected to WORK in addition to attending meetings. This may include taking notes, doing research, writing letters, emails, memos, etc., on your own time. But doing all of these things will build your reputation as a pro-active leader and, just as importantly, as a reliable problem solver among your fellow committee members and the group as a whole.
2. Participate in job fairs and workshops.
Yes, this is networking. It’s also a good activity for supporting the future economic growth of your community, your industry and your company. And if you feel awkward at networking events, consider this: when you’re sitting at a vendor table, people come to you. So there’s no need to walk aimlessly about the room, trying to make small talk no one listens to and feeling like the wallflower at the prom.
Even more to the point, these events are full of hard-working, ambitious people seeking a better future. Some of them may have been or perhaps still are employed by your competitors. Now you can interview them without paying a headhunter to find them! Other attendees may still be in school and looking for an employer in need of their cutting-edge skills. When they graduate with honors, your company could be at the top of their “who I want to work for” list.
Remember, participating in these events not only gives you a chance to connect with potential employees, but the movers and shakers who run these events as well. You can also use these events as research to see who has heard of your company, what they think of it and how effective your marketing and public relations efforts really are. Again, this information is FREE and could be incredibly useful in improving and strengthening your brand and marketing communications. One more plus, you’ll be making a valuable contribution to your community and enhancing the reputation of your company by doing so.
Tip: If you treat this event like a chore, it will be. If you look at it as a process of discovery it will be that and more.
3. Grant informational interviews.
How are informational interviews networking? If you’re meeting qualified people in your industry who request a face-to-face interview, clearly that’s networking. Someday, probably sooner rather than later, one of these interviewees could turn out to be the perfect candidate for a job you have to fill. Or they may just be a valuable contact who ends up working for a competitor, a vendor or an organization that you’d like to connect with. If the interview goes well, make that person part of your lifelong network. Even if you never hire them, you could still benefit from their knowledge, connections and friendship.
Keep in mind that people who request an informational interview are probably visiting other companies as well. Don’t be afraid to ask them their opinion of the competition, any impressions of the industry as a whole they may have formed based on their interviews and even advice about how you can make your company stand out from the rest.
An informational interview should add to the knowledge of both people during the conversation – not just one. Keep all the resumes people offer you in a folder and ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn or keep in touch with you periodically by email. The next time you have a hard-to-fill position you might find that the perfect candidate is as close as the folder tucked in your bottom drawer.
Tip: This is not only an ideal opportunity to interview recent graduates, but also industry veterans. You could collect your own database of potential consultants without spending a dime on finder fees or recruitment ads.
Hope this gives you some ideas on how building your network can help grow your business, your brand and your reputation within the community.
Another way is to have a Zoom meeting with us at Words & Beyond LLC. We’ve got some great ideas on how you make your current marketing more effective or start a whole new approach to raising brand awareness – including networking! Hope to hear from you soon.