The Power of Networking
The Power of Networking:
Expand your Contacts and Grow your Business
By Karolina Adamczyk
Networking can be introvert’s worst nightmare. This expensive, time-consuming and after-hours activity is not for the faint hearted. Over the last 4 years, there have been weeks when I got myself “out there” 4 or more times in one week. In retrospect, was it all worth it?
Networking always gives me that bittersweet feeling. I typically dread spending yet another night mingling with other professionals who have their own agendas. Just thinking about networking feels daunting and draining. However, once I’m in the lively environment of the meeting room, I’m back to my usual program of genuinely enjoying getting to know new people and finding those few common interests that make the evening so enjoyable.
In my personal experience, positives of networking outweigh the negatives. In the end, nothing beats the good old face-to-face relationship building. The value that networking brought to Ademchic and me personally is immeasurable.
A few years ago, I was working in banking and looking to escape the rat race. I started attending property networking meet ups in the evenings. It was at these events that I began to meet like-minded individuals - people who had the courage and strength to think bigger and want more. As I continued stepping out of my comfort zone and widening my circle, more and more people learned about my product, and my dream of owning an interior design studio slowly became a reality.
Joining networking groups is the best way to get new, meaningful connections. No business is guaranteed, but getting to know your prospective client in an informal setting dramatically increases your chances of working with them. In the end, people prefer to work with people they like! Bond over a good conversation and you are likely to find a new client, business partner or even your new best friend.
Don’t do what I’ve done. I used to attend (too) many different events in town. Classic quantity over quality strategy. It took a while to figure out which networking groups felt really like “me”. Once I identified the groups I trust and the individuals I wanted to surround myself with, I started attending a few selected events regularly.
I hit a breakthrough. I suddenly enjoyed it more. I built stronger friendships and closer business connections. I was getting much more value when I attended smaller, more connected groups regularly.
For those looking for immediate results, this is not for you. Networking is a slow burner. Cultivating trusting relationships takes months, sometimes years to build.
Remember, good networking isn’t about sourcing leads. It’s about building networks of people who you can vouch for and who can vouch for you. If you step into every relationship with the helpful attitude and assist in making genuine connections, your effort will be reciprocated with referrals and connections coming back to you.
How to find the right networking event for you? The clue is in group values. Once you attend the same event a number of times, you get to know the regulars and notice a common thread - shared beliefs and shared core principles.
Put the time and effort in and you might see that your network suddenly turns into your friend zone, which is what happened to me. It’s only natural that seeing the same faces regularly, sharing values and believes and genuinely wanting the best for each other will likely lead to more than just professional cooperation. My conclusion? All the effort was totally worth it!