Four Flags Chamber: Networking is a naturalPublished 10:10pm Monday, April 16, 2012
By KELLY ROCK
People long to feel connected. This is evident with the rise in activity with social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, BlogSpot, etc. But what’s at the core of it? What do people stand to benefit by networking?
Unity, connection, community, understanding, compassion; are you saying yes?
Social networking sites give people opportunities to connect, to share their story, whether triumphs or setbacks.
Individuals and businesses alike are taking advantage and doing more than just gaining a new friend or customer, they are building relationships, personal and professional, and that changes things! Change is good and should be embraced; but never forget the power of a hand shake.
For business professionals, networking is at the heart of transforming nothing into something.
A good referral, a positive testimony, a rating, a like, a share, a blog that moves; people are in a constant state of communication whether they realize it or not. A wise man once said, “we cannot not communicate.” Communication is a delicate balance of give and take. Some people are born messengers while others have to work at it. Practice it, preach it, or teach it, we all have a lot to learn from one another if we are willing to communicate constructively. We all network by nature, and the Four Flags Area Chamber of Commerce is one business that provides people the opportunity to fulfill the natural desire to network; online and face-to-face.
For some people, face-to-face networking can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. I remember being terrified attending my first business networking event. I went in, paid $5, made a nametag for myself, purchased a cold beverage and then I stood blank, asking myself, what am I doing here?
Then, I was approached by a smiling young lady who introduced herself and began asking questions about what I did. Once I began to speak and self-disclose, I began to unwind a little and ended up meeting a variety of amazing people that night.
The best networking advice I received was to focus on the needs and interests of others first. Listen, ask questions and show a genuine interest for fellow networkers.
Never try and sell something to someone if you are meeting them for the first time. Focus on the relationship first. The rest will fall into place and possibly be the beginning of a new friendship or professional referral.
If you are looking to get back to the nature of networking, shake a hand, or are looking to meet fellow business professionals, here’s your chance.
Join the next Business After Hours networking event, hosted by the new Holiday Inn Express & Suites and the Four Flags Area Council on Tourism, from 5 to 7 p.m. April 25. RSVP to (269) 683-3720.