I have pondered long and hard on whether or not to come clean about my feelings regarding business networking and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to put it out there and own this.
I HATED the idea of networking (please note the past tense used in that sentence!). I associated “networking” with a bunch of individuals with far too much time on their hands looking for opportunities to get together to compare their success stories (and get access to free booze and food). A stereotypical view of College-Jock high fives and insincere pats on the back that I couldn’t see myself actively partaking in…and I’m just too busy for all that schmoozing.
Cut to March 2017 when I was approached by an event management company inviting the agency to participate in a marketing summit. They said it would be an excellent opportunity to present the agency and our capabilities to some of Australia’s premier CMO’s, (“ big names, bright lights” level), an excellent opportunity to become part of an active network of like-minded professionals, and just one new client would be enough to see a significant return on our investment. Perhaps it was a moment of weakness, perhaps it was fate stepping in, maybe Karma was trying to tell me something, (maybe it was the bully-like sales tactics) but I found myself signing up and making a huge financial commitment to rub shoulders and high-five. Who was I becoming?
Fast forward to August 2017, having totally undergone a branding refresh, a new website, new digital strategy and social media content, and having published our first magazine Purpl., we were ready to start beating our chest and showing just how good we are to anyone who crossed our path.
Before I knew it, I was presenting theROQUE to, not one summit, but two in the space of a fortnight at two premier networking events on the Gold Coast. That was a total of 6 days that included meeting 45 prospect clients, sitting through almost 60 events including keynote talks, presentations, workshops, and break-out sessions, 2 gala dinners, team building activities, lots of drinks, hand shaking, talking and listening, speed-professional dating and a good dose of laughing. There was a lot of talking, there were a lot of shared experiences, there was a lot of listening and most importantly, some really impactful relationships were built with prospect clients as well as an army of talented suppliers, but above all, damn good PEOPLE.
And that, ladies and gents, is what it is all about — surrounding yourself with good people. In your personal and professional lives.
Let’s face it, when you LIKE who you are working with, it all becomes easier and more enjoyable. You give more, you are more invested in the best possible outcome, you are more engaged. Likewise with your supplier partners — there is plenty of work to go around to surround yourself with professional, like-minded, driven partners you can work with to offer clients a more integrated portfolio of services and products. And the best level of services and products to boot. It’s when you surround yourself with these types of people that you find yourself driven to give your best all the time.
So go forth and network….don’t just shake hands and exchange contact details, build a relationship — and don’t do it purely to get more work or increase your client portfolio. Do it because you will come across good people. People who will inspire you, people who will not only talk, but also listen, people who will share, people who will increase your drive, people who will support you and if you’re lucky (like me), you’ll meet incredible like-minded people who make you laugh and smile too.
Network because ‘relationships are at the heart of everything we do”….now where have I heard that before?