Networking can be defined as a social economic business activity in which people seek out opportunities to build business relationships. These relationships are a mutually beneficial resource by providing an opportunity to share information, act upon business opportunities and seek potential business partners or ventures. Business networking provides you with the opportunity to meet interesting, like minded people.
I always knew a business social network was of value; however, over the last two years I have learned so much more about the value one can find within this network. I have been fortunate enough to learn from Mel Morin and Sheri Tomchick, who, I believe, are two networking superstars.
I will be honest, in past situations networking has made me feel completely uncomfortable and awkward. Nonetheless, the more I push out of that comfort zone the more I realize how great being uncomfortable feels. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? I am fortunate enough to learn from my colleagues and they have shown me a few tricks of the trade and let me in on some tips that have helped them build their own network.
1. Toastmasters. One of the routes of professional development while working at Plan A is joining a Toastmasters Club. Attending, participating and getting the most out of your membership will prove to have an abundance of value. Toastmasters pushes you outside of your comfort zone and helps you practice delivering speeches in front of peers. You also have an opportunity to practice off the cuff conversations which come in handy during networking events.
2. Attendance. Get out and attend local networking opportunities! Consistent attendance at events such as the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce Business Exchange (GSBX) will provide ample opportunity for you to meet like minded people. The Chamber also invites members to participate in networking bootcamp sessions to learn from excellent networkers on how to make the most out of your networking time. I try and ‘practice’ networking in many environments; be it at my daughters’ dance studio or out and about where I have ample opportunity to talk, learn and engage with others.
3. Get uncomfortable. I have received a lot of advice from Sheri and Melanie, but one piece of advice that I feel is most fitting in this moment is: “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”. There is so much more outside of that comfort zone. Once you start to feel uncomfortable, you’ll realize that uncomfortable feeling is growth, and that is where the magic happens.
It is a work in progress but I can honestly share that working on my networking is one of the best things I have done. I encourage everyone I know to get out and do the same. There are many local opportunities and mentors to learn from. Just get out and do it!