In July of 2022, I officially resigned from my position as Discipleship and Connections Pastor at a church in northeast Ohio and officially accepted the opportunity to serve as the Business Development Specialist / Relationship Builder for C2IT Consulting.
Myriad reasons contributed to this career shift – burnout, culture, a desire to focus on family, and the ability to move back to the west side of Indianapolis to name a few. One of the main tasks in my new role was “networking.” To be honest, I didn’t really know what that meant, why it was so important, or where to begin. However, over the last year or so, I’ve learned about the incredible power of networking. Here are a few takeaways:
1. Networking Builds Relationships
I have learned that relationships are the most important part of business. People are far more likely to purchase your commodity or service if they know, like, and trust you. In much the same way as a pastoral role, for growth and partnership to happen, trust and open communication have to be the foundation. Authenticity, familiarity, genuine care, attention, and looking out for others are the building blocks for real relationships to be formed. When those relationships are built, then mutual understanding and business synergy become far simpler.
2. Networking is about Authenticity
Often, people assume that only extroverts are natural networkers. While an extrovert might be more comfortable walking into a crowded room of strangers, I have found that the best networkers are those who are comfortable in their own skin and who lean into who they are. Sometimes, the quietest person in the room can build the deepest connections by asking curious questions and being genuinely interested in listening to those they meet. People will discern quickly if you’re just there to collect business cards or schmooze your way to the “important people” in the room. Being authentically you is your best approach.
3. Networking Increases Familiarity and Connections
The word “network” means “an interconnected group of people or things.” Networking with others creates new connections, increases familiarity of your organization or brand, and adds to your potential referrers. I am constantly amazed at how many conversations have started with “I believe we have a mutual friend, and they pointed me your way.”
4. Networking can happen anywhere
Relationships are the goal of networking, and building relationships happens naturally, sometimes when you least expect it. You don’t have to attend a “networking event” join a networking group necessarily, but just keep your eyes open for opportunities. However, if you’re looking for intentional networking and the best vessel by which to grow your connections, there’s no substitute for a great Chamber of Commerce like the ones I’m a part of in Plainfield and Mooresville.
Over the past year or so, I have seen the incredible power of networking. I encourage you – if you own a business or desire to help your business grow, jump in and build those connections. You won’t regret it!