You’ve heard the phrase about success: “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” But networking strikes fear into the heart of many an entrepreneur. And if you lack self-confidence, it can be a nightmare.
I’ve been to a lot of networking groups in the past few months. Some, I enjoyed very much. Two of my favorites are WOAMTEC and NACWE. Others, which shall remain nameless, I wouldn’t return to if you bribed me with a year’s supply of Jimmy Choos.
Personally, I steer clear of groups where you’re required to refer to people within the group, or to bring 10 contact names with you to every meeting. First of all, a referral is a sacred thing. You’re giving an implied endorsement of that person. If they suck, it reflects back on you. Sorry chicky, it just does.
Secondly, networking isn’t about instant gratification.
It’s not about walking away from each meeting with a stack of (marginally qualified) new leads. It’s a long-term commitment. More like courting as opposed to speed dating. Or buying a Coach purse instead of 15 crappy ones from Target. In my last post, I talking about the importance of Relationship Networking. That kind of networking takes time.
I recently had the privilege to be interviewed by Will Holmes, founder and sponsor of one of the largest professional networking associations on the East Coast, Baltimore Professionals and Entrepreneurs. The work he does for entrepreneurs in the Baltimore area is truly transforming that city. He interviewed me about the connection between self-esteem and entrepreneurial success.
This connection was decades in the making.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you may know that I’m originally an East Coast girl. I grew up in Baltimore, and actually went to school with Will. We lived a block away from each other and shared many of the same classes through middle school and high school.
I may live on the opposite side of the country now, but self-worth has no geographical limits. Heck, most of my self-esteem problems started in Baltimore, though Will had nothing to do with it! 🙂
It took me years of research and trial-and-error to discover and love myself again, and to develop a system that actually works to improve your self-worth – for good.
Now, I’m not saying that you have to forge relationships for decades – or even years – before networking pays off. But if you look at it from a long-term investment perspective, it makes it easier to determine which networking groups are a fit. And it helps you be a savvy networker yourself, not a spammy one.
How has networking opened doors for you? What do you look for in a good networking group, and what are your favorite groups? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!