Networking: the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business — Merriam-Webster.
If you’re looking to grow your business or stay relevant in your community, building relationships is KEY. Regularly attending networking events will allow you to create meaningful relationships that will lead to referrals. By growing your network not only will you increase your business, but you will become a trusted resource in your community.
The first step is finding an organization to join, might we suggest your local Chamber of Commerce? A Chamber of Commerce is an association that works to promote and protect the interests of the business community. For over 100 years businesses have trusted the Chamber to serve as their voice and have participated in the many networking opportunities they’ve provided. Although joining a Chamber is the perfect place to start, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one networking group.
Once you’ve joined a group it’s important to actively engage if you want to grow your business network. We sat down with two Glendale Chamber members who have exemplified effective networking, and they agreed to share their key to success:
Meet Mimi Brown, Real Estate Agent, Keller Williams Realty, and Yolanda Gallegos, Mortgage Specialist, AmeriFirst Financial, Inc.
Q: How often do you attend networking events?
M: 8 – 10 times a month
Y: 8 – 10 times a month
Q: Do you find it important to regularly attend?
M: Yes, this is how you build true relationships.
Y: Yes, people have to see you in order to remember you.
Q: What do you consider to be the greatest benefit to networking?
M: When I first started I was nervous to talk in front of a crowd and didn’t always have the confidence to approach new people. Being a part of the Glendale Chamber put me out of my comfort zone and I’m thankful for that because I no longer have those same fears. In this past year I have been able to make new connections and build relationships that have brought me so much personal satisfaction.
Y: One of the greatest benefits is meeting new people. I’ve supported businesses that I would have never known about if it weren’t for the connections I’ve made through networking. Being a member of the Glendale Chamber has allowed me to use businesses that I know I can trust and recommend to others.
Q: Favorite Ice breaker?
M: Depends on the situation and the person’s personality, but starting with a question about them will typically spark a conversation.
Y: “So, what do you do?”
Q: What’s your best advice for people who are looking to build new business relationships?
M: Be proactive and purposeful, listen to what others have to say, be kind and approachable and always be professional. It’s important in any relationship to let the person know that you care about them and that goes for business relationships as well.
Y: Get to know people and their businesses, learn as much as you can from them. In general, we do business with people we like, know and trust. It’s important to know that it takes time to build that trust.
Other Tips from Mimi & Yolanda:
- Embrace everyone, if you’re in a group and see someone by themselves welcome them in to talk with you.
- Try not to sit in the same place or with the same people every time.
- Dress the part.
- Practice your message so people clearly understand what you do.