The Importance of Networking for Personal and Professional Success

Do you network for personal or professional reasons?

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I first heard about networking when I quit my job in 2006. My husband, who had already spent many years self-employed before entering the corporate world said, “If you’re going to start a business, you need to network.”

I had no idea what that meant. I live in an area referred to as the “South Shore”. I Googled Women’s Business Networking South Shore, MA

The first listing that popped up – the South Shore Women’s Business Network.

I signed up for and attended my first event. As I walked down the hall to the function room, my heart rate picked up. “I can’t do this” I thought. I quickly responded with, “You have to.”

When voices I’d never heard before echoed into the hallway, I paused. The shy me turned on my heels and walked away. As I reached the other end of the hall I thought, “If you don’t go in now you’ll never go in. And how will you get a business going?”

I exhaled, turned back around and walked in the door. A friendly face greeted me and immediately introduced me to another friendly face.

The rest, as they say, is history. I became a member, a board member and the President. I even wrote a small tips book on the topic.

The Result of Networking

Today I booked 2 speaking engagements due to the relationships I developed through networking. And specifically through the South Shore Women’s Business Network.

I also received a call from a colleague who is transitioning jobs and wanted to let me know. She sent me her resume and we’ll see if and how I can help her at this time. Because we have a relationship, she felt comfortable reaching out, sharing this change and asking for help.

Networking is All About Relationships

Relationships that can help you grow your business; relationships that might turn into friendships; and relationships that might help you in your personal life.

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It’s not about sales. It’s not about passing out or collecting as many business cards as you can, and it’s certainly not about taking those cards and immediately adding the email addresses to your mailing list.

The old adage goes “People do business with those they know, like and trust.”

Considerations to Get You Started

If you live south of Boston check out the South Shore Women’s Business Network or the South Shore Chamber of Commerce (I’m also a member). Or do a web search for another group that’s a good fit.

A quick Google search for networking events in your area will most likely list more than you can handle. If not, consider starting your own. I did, that, too.

A networking event is a starting point. If you make a connection with someone, ask for their card, permission to contact them, and suggest getting together again for a more in depth conversation. Get to know them, be curious, follow up and most importantly find out how you can help. That’s what networking, and relationship building is all about. And it’s those relationships that will enrich your life personally and professionally.

Your turn: How about you. Do you network live or online for personal or professional reasons? Would love to hear your thoughts about networking.

New to networking? I wrote a small guide book to help you through it called Experience Less Stress, More Success: networking for Business. In it I share my experiences and tips I learned along the way. Perfect for a new business owner or individual new to networking.

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2 Comments:

  • http://LizTheresa.com Liz

    Hi Stacey! I loved this article – I shared this experience when I was starting my business too. I had the same thought – “If you don’t go in now you’ll never go in. And how will you get a business going?” That question is the motivator that thrusted me forward.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Stacey Shipman

    Hi Liz, Thanks for leaving your experience. Stepping into the fear is sometimes the best decision!

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