I had such a great time this week meeting with three different people for coffee, on 3 consecutive mornings.
One is an emerging musician and entrepreneur. Another is a fellow local networker with an over-full plate of responsibilities. Another is someone considering a new career direction.
In each instance, besides mutually shared empathy and advice, potentially valuable network connections were made. Only in one case might there be a bit of direct revenue-work for me. So why invest the time?
Simple. I see network-building as gold-mining. And when you enrich others through your knowledge and your connections, others will also enrich you – short-term or long-term.
For those of you who hesitate to pro-actively meet people and grow your network – I get it. After all, I’m a native introvert (yes, it’s true). I have experienced the faux and smarmy version of shallow “networking” events (yuk!). And I know there’s always a risk to taking the initiative and reaching out to new people.
For your own sake and for the sake of others, please get over it. Your network is a gold mine of great people who enrich you, and who can enrich others. And, that person across the table is also a gold mine of knowlege, experience, perspective, and contacts. It’s incredibly fun to dig into other people’s background and experiences and find common threads and potential needs that can be met. I find these meetings to be fascinating and energizing.
My comfort zone is one-on-one, not group social events. So a whole bunch of my gold-mining is done at the Frothy Monkey here in Franklin, at a small table, talking business and life and ideas with one person at a time. For those of us not wired as schmoozers and public socializers, this can be THE best way to build a network. So find a great local coffee shop and make yourself at home.
You’re not merely “building a network.” You’re creating opportunity. You’re mining for gold. The whole is MUCH greater than the sum of its two parts sitting at the table.
I’ll put a plug in here for Southeast Business Forums (a formal networking group in the Middle Tennessee area) because in that group, I’ve been seeing a bunch of mature, business-savvy professionals there who truly “get it” – understanding the power of focused networking and making personal referrals. And who doesn’t want to grow their business based on referrals? I sure do. And that starts with getting to know quality people.
But you don’t have to join a group to mine gold yourself – just start. Invite someone for coffee, even if you don’t see an immediate business connection. Invest weekly time getting to know quality people and good things will happen – I guarantee it.
What are your stories of mining gold through network connections? Feel free to share in the comments (I know I could tell dozens of tales!)