Networking: Making the Most of Your Connections!
By Charlene Rashkow
"The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one's opportunities, and to make the most of one's resources." Vauvenargues
Frequently the greatest opportunities and resources available to us sit quietly waiting to be tapped, continuously present, and yet often unrecognizable. What is this greatest of all resources? It is simply our human connections; the people we see every day, the ones we see occasionally and those we meet by chance. Each represents one of the greatest resources known to man but are often overlooked. We are told instead to search for ways to make our businesses grow, bypassing the most important method, which is always right in front of us.
Of course networking in organized meetings, placing advertisements in the right publications and getting the best search engine positioning are all appropriate and extremely helpful to a business, but for some those methods can often be too expensive or possibly even seem too designed. There are countless individuals who cannot spend inordinate amounts of money on marketing and promoting their ideas or services by way of the standard methods but I believe it isn't always necessary.
What I discovered over the years is that constantly being on the lookout for ways and means to share my gifts has proven to be more fruitful and much less competitive than using the standard methods. In fact, seeking opportunities to give and not focusing so much on what I get seems to open doors everywhere. Instead of competing with others, I find creating my own niche has been more productive and makes far more sense.
I am not suggesting that we should sit back and do nothing, because taking action is natural and necessary and I recommend doing whatever you can to promote your business. What I am suggesting is paying more attention to those opportunities that seem to be present consistently, yet are ignored. I'd be willing to bet that if you thought back over some of your best business experiences, you would discover that most of the more monumental business moments, came about almost effortlessly and what might have seemed like sheer coincidence. I am of the opinion that we are always presented with opportunities but in order to make the most of them, we have to stay open and aware of the people we communicate with regularly, as well as those we meet by chance. If not we could miss out on some of the greatest opportunities to expand on our products and services.
Sighting two small examples out of hundreds throughout my career history will bring my point across more effectively. One morning while sitting on the patio of my local coffee shop, there were two other woman seated very near to me. One of the women, who happened to be in very close proximity to my seat, demonstrated an extremely high level of energy for early morning, which I found rather distracting. I prefer the quiet of the morning as I prepare for my day, but on this particular morning, the young lady talked incessantly on her cell phone. The other woman, who was sitting just across from me, was attempting to read what appeared to be important material but I could tell she too was distracted by the urgency of our coffee neighbor.
We both glanced at each other and smiled, recognizing without words that we were on the same wavelength as we both wished she would leave. When the chatty woman finally left, we struck up an interesting conversation recognizing that we had some important things in common. She mentioned that she was working on a very significant project at which time I made a few business suggestions that I thought would help. I had not at any time even mentioned what I did for a living but she found my ideas useful and eventually asked what I did.
When I told her that I was a business writer/consultant she asked if she could have my business card which of course I gave her. I at no time tried to impose my services on her and just let it all unfold naturally. As a result, this woman has become one of my dearest clients and friends. Had I not been open to communicating with her or hadn't trusted my natural instincts for our affinity, I would never have experienced one of the most rewarding relationships of my life. That in my opinion is true networking without design.
Another wonderful illustration of natural networking comes in the form of e-mail communication. It began when I came upon a site that had reprinted an article of mine that had been published some time ago. Apparently the woman who used it had seen it online and chose to share it with her readers. It was very nicely displayed and had my contact information and bio appropriately in place. Since I am always happy to gain exposure through my articles, I simply wrote her a very nice letter of thanks explaining that I appreciated the grand presentation of my article. She responded almost immediately and our communication found us sharing many things in common. A short time later she wrote me again, asking if I could write a press release for her new site, demonstrating once again another opportunity to network naturally.
I could go on and on with experiences I've had which continuously help my business grow, but in essence what I'm trying to say is that opportunities are always around us. Many people only give themselves permission to "network" when it's at a planned meeting or during the business day. My suggestion is to stay open for opportunities that invite conversation, whether in person, by telephone and especially in e-mail. You may find that some people are receptive to your openness while others may not be as willing to communicate, but I promise that overall you'll be pleasantly surprised at the receptivity demonstrated by others. Pleasant, supportive and appreciative communication is a great way for promoting your business and yourself and usually proves to be the best form of networking.
About the Author
Charlene Rashkow brings 15 years of experience as a Writing Stylist and Author to her creative efforts as a freelance writer/consultant. She has successfully helped companies and individuals reach their objectives by writing outstanding press releases, bios, articles of interest, business plans, resumes, web site content and all other forms of marketing material. You may contact Charlene at www.allyourwritingneeds.com or write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call her directly at (310) 514-4844.