Networking. A few short months ago, this word made me shudder. Maybe it does for you as well. I imagined self-centered people who saw others only as rungs on the ladder to the “top,” and I wanted no part in such greedy scheming.
For years, my dad —an honest lawyer and prudent marketer—assured me that I was misguided and encouraged me to build connections. In my pride, I refused to believe him until recently.
Throughout the process, I grew personally and learned a few networking facts.
- You cannot do everything on your own. If you or your business existed in a bubble, you would have no business. Relationships are essential to success.
- Plan with the end in mind. Evaluate exactly what you need before you ask, and you will clearly communicate your vision.
- You never know until you ask. Don’t assume people won’t want to help you succeed. If others know you, your character and your vision, they will gladly assist you themselves or introduce you to someone who can do what they themselves cannot.
- Don’t give up. You will hear “no.” Don’t take it personally and don’t burn that bridge. Be gracious, understanding that others—like you—are limited by time and space. A courteous response to rejection speaks volumes and will be recalled favorably. A dismissal is not the end of the world. There are plenty more individuals to seek out.
- Help someone else. If a professional contact, client or family friend needs support in reaching a goal and you can provide that support—whether writing a review or connecting them to a better contact—do it.
As you build your network, you will witness the excitement of watching others succeed as well as yourself.