Several years ago when I was beginning my job search, my dad constantly reminded me, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” I will admit he was right: my network of family and friends helped me find an internship that led to my first job. But networking isn’t just useful for determining the next step in your career. It’s also a great resource for finding new customers to build your business.
While using social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with others is important, there are multiple face-to-face networking opportunities you can take advantage of to get your name out there. These include:
– Attending Chamber of Commerce meetings. There is no better way, or place to network then at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. By nature, these organizations include local business owners who take an interest in their community and supporting its growth. Not only can you promote your own business capabilities, but you can also learn how you can help others. By attending these meetings, you are demonstrating your commitment to the community – and hopefully, earning business.
– Taking part in School or Community Events. Is your nephew’s football team having a fundraiser event? Is your daughter’s school having a family holiday party? Is your city having a summer festival? Chances are there’s an organization you belong to – or have connections to – that is having an event where you are welcome. Instead of seeing it as just another thing to put on your calendar, view it as the opportunity to find out what fellow parents or organization members do, and make them aware of your own work.
– Volunteering. Many high school and college alumni groups set up volunteering days for alumni to give back to the community. Sign-up to lend a hand, plus learn what fellow graduates are working on and what they need to succeed. There are plenty of other volunteer options available as well – take a look at what your faith organization or local community center may be planning.
– Inviting friends and family to lunch. Although you may think you know what your friends and family do for a living, there still may be a lot of untapped potential. Spend an hour at lunch finding out more about their organizations and what resources they regularly use. Even if they aren’t in need of your business’s offerings, they may be able to connect you to others who are.
No matter how you network, network with a purpose. Get yourself out there, and remember to return the favor when others are in need of establishing their own connections!