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If networking is the key to building your prospect list, enhancing your book of business and continuing your professional development, then why is it so difficult for people to get out there and mingle?
If you are an introvert like me, attending traditional networking events can be a daunting challenge. I often feel like a hypocrite because I'm in the business of communications and find it difficult to communicate face-to-face with prospects! But the truth is that networking is the simplest form of strengthening your circle of influence and if you know your business, communicating is the easy part.
Prospects are everywhere you turn!
Throughout the course of my career I have come to learn that while I must push myself to network in the traditional sense, there are multitudes of ways in which I network inadvertently that pay off. For instance, several of my friends have become prospects. The companies they work for are often in need of public relations or marketing services, which sometimes becomes the topic of discussion during a Saturday night dinner and in some instances lead to a successful business partnership.
Business is lurking just about everywhere we look these days and networking can be as simple as striking up a conversation with the person in line behind you at the grocery store or standing next to you in the elevator. This is after all where the term “elevator pitch” came from.
But aside from “everyday networking” as I like to call it, building your circle of influence can also come in the form of joining a board or becoming actively involved in a committee outside of the office. What interests you? Is it your church board or a committee through your child’s school? What about a local non-profit that is near and dear to your heart? Chances are there is a group in need of your expertise where you can not only network with a wide range of individuals that span a variety of industries, but grow professionally and maybe even make a real difference in your community.
When joining a board or a committee, the initial intent isn’t to go sell your company or its services. You join to offer your knowledge and expertise, which in turn wows those you interact with, which can lead to business down the line. Networking in these types of situations becomes natural and building up your prospect list simply becomes a nice byproduct.
So don’t be afraid to branch out. Join a board or get involved in a local committee. And then don’t be surprised when three, six or even 12 months down the line you get a call for business. Networking is easier than you think!