Think about that word: networking. Thirty years ago, what exactly did that mean? Was the word as meaningful then in a world without personal computers? Now, in a business world where computer networks are crucial, it's important to understand that personal networks are important as well.
"No man [or woman] is an island." Nearly every sort of work we do requires a relationship with others. You can write a book alone, but you need others to buy it. You can work on a computer alone, but you need clients. After working for many years in Corporate America where it was my superiors [I don't like that word - we're all equals - but you know what I mean] who networked with others in their field. Once I became self-employed, I was a bit out of my experience in learning how to network with others who might need my skills or might know someone else who does. I have never enjoyed sales and was uncomfortable with the idea of "selling" my administrative services. What I discovered, much to my surprise, was that by attending functions with other business people, I could not only increase awareness of my own work, but hear about all sorts of wonderful entrepreneurship and ideas going on in my city, and it was the education, the sharing that created potential clients, not selling.
Social media has become a great way to meet others, for business relationships or for skill exchanges, however LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. are two-dimensional. You can educate others but your conversations are flat, with little personality behind them. We all know that for business (or any) relationship to grow we need to like each other, and that can only be accomplished face to face. We must learn to follow up our online meetings with personal contact - meet for lunch or coffee, attend Meetup or Chamber meetings, and so on. Even if you are shy of meeting new people, it's vital to form personal relationships to foster the business relationships. In needing to sell myself as the end product and have people like and trust me, it was my conversations and relationship-building that netted results.
I encourage you [good word . . ."en-courage" . . . to instill courage] to think about your friends, family and business associates as the knots in a great net of potential clients. Each knot leads to another thread which leads to another knot. Follow the threads, and network your way to success. And of course, if you need help uncovering your network, I know a great administrative / research assistant who'd love to help you - Holly@LightseedsOffice.com!
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