Many resources exist to connect fellow business professionals while creating a structured, routine foundation for those relationships to be established and nurtured. Networking groups can provide immense value to budding entrepreneurs and influential CEOs alike, though the benefits aren’t achieved through membership alone. Joining a committee, a networking group, or centre of influence requires a commitment to investing in those communities. Give more than what you expect to gain and strategic opportunities will arise.
Make Genuine Connections
Echoing our #Incite20 blog and its discussion of giving more than you take, avoid the complacent perspective of “What can my business gain from this?” and instead ask “How can we add value and work to help those around us?” In other words, your connections should be more than symbiotic and trade-oriented, generating authenticity in the sense that you truly wish to see your peers succeed and actively seek out opportunities for them to do so. Furthermore, don’t limit your interactions to solely exchange–build your partnerships in other avenues by reaching out to touch-base, offer support, commiserate over challenges, or share war-stories of your industries. There is great value present in the intangible support your network can provide.
Haphazardly joining a business group because you’ve heard of their benefits or to dress up your CV is a sure-fire way to either a) squander its potential or b) end up neck-deep in an organization you dislike with people you don’t connect with. Be clear about your goals and the outcomes you’re seeking as a result of joining these groups. Keep your goals actionable and feasible for your schedule such that it’s a worthy investment of your time and not just another task on your plate. Reminder: it’s not about collecting business cards for a never-ending supply of leads. Reconnect with other business leaders that represent a wealth of knowledge and mutual support.
Get involved with groups that align with your brand and the purpose of your membership. Synergy Network and the Edmonton Executive Association are two examples of invaluable groups of business and community leaders in Edmonton that I am proud to be a part of. I have learned so much from my fellow members and believe their authentic desire to help is what sets these groups apart. Finding the right people makes building meaningful connections that much more effective. Associate with people you trust and respect.
Within a network lies a powerful web of experience, growth, innovation, and creativity brought to the table by its leaders (aka members). Through this collective of prominent individuals, you gain access to minds that offer solutions you simply couldn’t conjure up alone. You can bounce ideas off of one another, brainstorm, open doors to new industries and perspectives, and be reminded of your own competence reflected by like-minded people. Markets are plagued by competition, and such groups make space to build each other up rather than breaking each other down.
A prevalent question in business communities is: how do you remain inspired, on the cutting-edge, and driven by the passion that fuelled you just as you were getting started? And I believe the answer to that lies in reconnecting–reconnecting with your peers, partners, family, and friends that all offer sparks of motivation in their own way, formally and informally.
Networking can be a hollow buzzword or a strategic, invaluable tool for expanding your reach. Go for the latter. Change your approach to business groups and actively foster meaningful relationships with other leaders for authentic, long-term partnerships.
About The Author
As Founder and President of Incite, Ted brings over 25 years of strategic marketing and consulting experience to the table. His proven ability to engage in complex business strategy and multi-stakeholder environments has enabled him to help a diverse range of private and public sector clients with growth strategy, communications, strategic issues management and brand development.
Incite is a marketing and strategy consulting firm specializing in growth, brand, and communications. From market expansion and brand development, to supporting post-merger integration and building internal engagement, Incite’s strategic approach helps clients to better understand their market, clearly articulate value, align organizational resources, and connect with key stakeholders to achieve success