Recently, someone asked me what the best networking groups are and if I could point them to a list of local networking groups. The question caught me off guard. Sure, I love to network, right? Networking is fun and crucial in my current role as Director of Development and Marketing for a small non-profit. We are funded 100% by our community, therefore, I must network in order to raise awareness about what we do. However, I realized that I don’t really do it. Not deliberately, anyway. And if I am being honest, the whole idea of networking groups really turns me off. I cringe to think about a bunch of sales people grouped together handing out business cards and shoving their product or service down each other’s throats. Okay, so that may be harsh. Not all networking groups or events are like that, but some are.
So I stopped, reflected, and answered: Forget networking in the literal sense and volunteer. When you get together with a group of passionate people and work to further a cause in which you really believe, you will make incredible, worthwhile connections, not to mention all the good you will do for the community. I love volunteering and do so as much as I can, and I have made some incredible connections that have served me well professionally- though that was not my intention.
So that is my two cents. Stop placing so much emphasis on networking and finding the right networking group and just do something that makes you feel good. That’s when you really shine. That’s when you make a difference. That’s how you make real connections.
5 thoughts on “Networking”
You are correct in so many ways Amber.
There are too many networking groups in our area that operate the way you described in the 1st paragraph. These are filled with people who are trying to eek out a living by attending these groups that too often are filled with what a friend of mine recently described as “bottom-feeders”.
I believe that is a harsh term, but I really don’t want to hear a sales pitch about how my air, food, and what not is killing me unless I join them and their crusade to save the world, 1 bottle at a time.
There are other networking groups that are more “middle ground” these are the folks that have real jobs and are looking to make connections and make it a two way street. The key is to find ways to help others, not find others who can help you. It is a subtle difference, but an oh so important one.
And before I move to the last group, I have met some very fine entrepreneurs at both of these types of meetings. I recommend some of them on a regular basis, because they are good, honest and trustworthy. They don’t look at you as a dollar sign.
Amber, I agree with the volunteering type of networking. This in itself is rewarding and genuine friendships are formed.
I think you nailed it on the “two way” street thing. That’s the key. If you are just in it for yourself, people will smell you from a mile away.
While I won’t disagree that some of these events are filled with ‘less seasoned’ or ‘over zealous’ networkers, some still allow the building of valuable relationships that turn into real business opportunities for all parties involved. Still others turn into more than passing acquaintances or full fledged friendships.
I don’t think it is any surprise, that we naturally exclude those who are nothing more than me monsters and reward those who are attending for real connections and not just looking for their next meal. My concern is that if we always lose good people, then we are left with only the me monsters.
The sad thing is, many of the same techniques and behavior patterns occur online as well as offline.
You are right, “some still allow the building of valuable relationships.” I love your point about losing good people and being left with the me monsters. You’ve given me much food for thought and I will certainly revise my advice, slightly, to include your caveat 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by my blog to comment! I feel like a superstar with you AND scloho taking time to comment.