I received a brochure today for the SHRM Strategy Conference in Palm Springs. One of their keynote speakers is Keith Ferrazzi from Ferrazzi Greenlight. This brings me to my second thing that every business person needs to know: Networking.
Now, I’m not talking about a contest to see who can give away the most business cards. That’s what happens at bad Chamber of Commerce meetings. I’m talking about “building relationships.” For a moment, let’s dissect these two words.
The ‘building’ part means entering into an exchange of ideas and information. So many times people think networking is like Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done for Me Lately?” They look at a person and assume either (a) this person isn’t worth the energy or (b) they don’t know anyone worth value. You’d be surprised at who knows who in your community.
When I moved to South Florida, a friend told me to pay attention to how money moves in the community. Where the money goes is where you want to be. And, that doesn’t always mean the biggest companies in your city. Think of the charities and non-profits that attract attention – they’re getting money too.
‘Relationship’ simply means that networking takes time. You don’t build any good relationship overnight. People need to know you and trust you. It also means that you might start out a business relationship by giving more than you are getting. This is true of the interactions you have in-person (at meetings, etc.) as well as on-line (i.e. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook).
The last thing to remember as you build your circle of friends is networking is forever. A common mistake many people make is they don’t start building a professional network until they need one (translation: downsized) – and then it’s too late. You need to network every day, all day and all the time. You never know who you might meet and when you will be presented with an opportunity – just make sure that you’re ready.