Everyone tells advisors to “network.” It’s a challenging concept if you don’t think you’re a good networker. In reality, networking isn’t any more than having conversations with people at an organized event. That event can be social or professional. But no matter where you are, having good networking skills is important.
I have had two mentors to help me with my own networking skills: Andrea Nierenberg and Michael Goldberg, who are both my friends and colleagues. I have learned A LOT about what “networking” really is from them.
Last summer my husband and I left New York and moved to Tennessee. It surprised many of my professional friends since I have always seemed to be a “typical, quintessential New Yorker.” But, like my husband, I always wished to have been a country child and we made our wish come true when we moved to a 50-acre horse farm outside of Nashville.
After a year of taking time to settle in, I realized I wanted to “network” in my new community. Williamson County has an incredible Chamber of Commerce, which goes by the name Williamson, Inc.
There are many scheduled events every month and for my first outing, I chose a “leads exchange” meeting. It is not an “open” networking opportunity, but rather a structured event with strict rules.
Everyone can share their brochures and business cards with all attendees by just placing them in the middle of the lunch tables — or not. But you had to present yourself and your company, in one minute, during the formal introductions after lunch.
You can imagine how important it was to be precise when you have exactly one minute (yes, it’s timed) to discuss your work. And you aim to make a good impression. We were all given a list of the attendees, with space next to their names to write notes. That was very helpful. I was able to write key take-aways from the members whose businesses interested me.
In the weeks following, I have found help with my website videos and health insurance — just from this one meeting. I also had two lunches: one with another consultant who wanted to “compare notes” since he’s new at being a consultant; and another with a member who is on the “engagement committee” and discussed how to best use the chamber.