Friday, November 28, 2008
When I left my position as corporate recruiter and decided to offer networking coaching as a key component of my business, I realized that while I'd done well networking for the corporation I worked for, I hadn't done much networking for myself.
To remedy that, I joined a few industry organizations and one for business owners of any industry. I looked at about eight different options, the organizations I chose needed to meet four criteria:
1. They needed to be relevant to what I did.
2. They needed to have a face-to-face component and the people there needed to be happy to see me.
3. They needed to be filled with spark plugs - people very excited to be there and to be doing what they did for a living.
4. They needed to be easy to get to and offered at convenient times (ruling out 7:00 a.m. meetings and anything involving rush-hour traffic).
I renewed my Northwest Recruiters Association and National Resume Writer's memberships. One group is nearly all face-to-face and the other is virtual as there just aren't very many resume writers in the world. Then, I joined the eWomenNetwork, which is focused exclusively on teaching business owners and other professionals (not just women!) how to network. Talk about a room full of spark plugs! You could run a small city off the energy at those meetings! If you want to check them out, mention I referred you. You can go to many of these groups once or twice without an obligation to join and some you never have to join if you don’t want to.
I also joined the Puget Sound Career Developers Association, a much more sedate group of people who have been in the career counseling industry for a long time - over 40 years in several cases. This has been a gem of a resource with terrific guest speakers. As an added bonus, most career counselors hate writing resumes and have minimal corporate recruiting experience; many partnerships have formed through this group. More recently, I’ve built my profile on Biznik and have signed up for a few events.
My point in explaining my journey into networking is to illustrate an unexpected issue I faced right from the beginning. Every single time it was time to go to a networking meeting, I thought of a reason not to go. I was too busy. I was too tired. It was cold out. I was in my pajamas. I didn’t really feel like talking to people. Every time I thought of some reason. However, I'd already paid for the lunch or it was a part of my membership, so I forced myself to go.
It didn't take long, maybe three months or so, before I started noticing a pattern. Every time I went to a networking event, something wonderful came out of it. A new referral partner, a business strategy I didn’t know, a new friend, unfathomable resources, and, in many cases, new clients. It was completely unexpected (perhaps I set my expectations too low), but altogether wonderful.
I strongly encourage all of you to get out there, meet people face to face and build relationships with them. Soon, they’ll think of you anytime someone asks them, “Do you know anyone who does…” Now, they know YOU!