As a business professional you are a leader in your own right. You are the leader of your career – whether that is as an employee in someone else’s company, or as an entrepreneur leading your own business. Each of us become part of a larger network in the business world. Our relationships with others becomes our power network – a platform from which we can grow and develop. Many entrepreneurs and professionals become lone rangers… working in isolation because they have an insurmountable list of things to accomplish.
When I attend networking events with a lot of employed professionals, I find networking is very different than when networking in a room filled with entrepreneurs. I often wonder why the two groups are so different. Connecting with others, regardless of your employment status should be the same — to build relationships with others.
When you attend a networking event, reception or other business meeting, do you take advantage of the opportunity to connect with new people or do you spend your time with people you already know? Business events are a great opportunity for everyone, employee or entrepreneur, to make new connections and build on other business relationships. Spending your time with friends or work colleagues and not expanding your business network is an opportunity missed.
1) Each person in the relationship offers value to the other.
2) Each person works effectively with the other.
Connecting with new people at events is always challenging and forces you to move outside your comfort zone. I find these events particularly stressful but they have become a routine part of my business. Each meeting requires me to push myself. I have made some amazing connections because I persevere. When I meet new people, I try to learn more about them. Ask probing questions. This helps to open the discussion in a way to place the other person in a more comfortable position. I try to identify key points from our conversation that I can help them. Is there someone in my network they should meet? Do I have a resource that would be valuable to them? Do I have a product or program that would enable them to resolve a challenge or impasse?
Always consider who you know, what activities you are involved in, what resources you have at your fingertips and how a stronger relationship could benefit both of you. By focusing on the other person you will be less uncomfortable and more authentic. You never know when this person you are meeting could be a vital part of your power network and able to help you with your challenge or impasse — getting a promotion, finding your dream job, connecting a non-profit with a key resource, or finding a platinum client.
Every relationship that we develop should assist both parties to be effective, efficient and productive in some way. How you can help each other may not be crystal clear iniitally. Sometimes it takes two or three meeitngs for this to surface to the top. Effective relationships will foster mutual growth, development and success. You make the path to success smoother and less challenging.
I’m Employed… Why Network?
Networking when you are employed is just as important as when you are an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs must be consistently looking for a new contracts and networking allows them to create the relationships to achieve this goal. Employees, particularly professionals and executives, frequently have a false sense of job security. The reality is, you could be let go from your job without prior notice due to cut-backs or realignment. You may also want to climb the ladder within your current company or within your profession but with a new company. Your network is a gold-mine. It provides you with the support, encouragement and connections your need at these critical times. Strong relationships will foster a willingness to assist you when its really needed.