Whether you are running a business or developing your career, networking is essential to building and maintaining business relationships. Effective networking takes practice and preparation, but moreover it takes patience.
Tom Farley, President of the NYSE, stated in Fortune Magazine, “Networking is about collecting relationships with interesting or influential people irrespective of the immediate benefit of these relationships.” I wholeheartedly agree. Often the time, energy, stress and money we put into going to non-profit galas, Chamber of Commerce celebrations, leadership functions and business grand openings are dismissed as a waste of time and a burden on your social and family calendars. But I truly believe that coordinating networking opportunities at least once or twice a month is a great investment in your future.
Here are 3 reasons why business networking is important:
Builds character: Networking in a variety of environments with a diverse group of people that represent multiple industries builds character. The more you interact with others and tell your business story, the more confident you become. Also your listening skills will improve. Eventually you’ll find yourself relaxed and having fun and making new contacts.
Widens your circle of influence: Networking helps raise awareness of your name and the name of your business. You want people to remember YOU in all the right ways and spread your name and business among their peers and colleagues.
Forces you to practice your pitch: The more people you interact with at networking events, the more opportunities you’ll have to tell your story. It’s important that you have a refined proposition that you can pitch in 15 seconds or less. The more you practice, the better you’ll be received.
Investing your time and effort in networking should be an essential part of your job. It’s important to remember that networking is not selling, but rather it’s opening the door to new opportunities. Look at the big picture: networking is more like running a marathon than sprinting. With patience, preparation and smart execution, the dividends of business networking will benefit you and your business.