Networking is for Go-Getters

Tonight’s post will be short and sweet. I’m a member of the NC Council for Economic Development and try to take advantage of their awesome events as frequently as possible.  Just last week I went to their member’s only reception; and today I went to their Cafe event on go-to-market strategies. 

The talk itself was basic—appropriate for a mixed group I’m sure—and right on. I agreed with everything that was said. (“You need to have a value proposition! Disqualify your prospects as quickly as you qualify them! Your sales people are an extension of your brand!  Test before you launch!”) I live and breathe sales and marketing. None of this was news to me—and so the real value I found today was in networking.

I’m amazed by how many people tell me that they hate networking.  They say they don’t like approaching people uninvited and that they feel awkward talking about themselves, or don’t know what to talk about at all.  I think these people must be thinking about networking all wrong.  It’s not about selling anything, or asking for anything; it’s about meeting people so that you can learn about them and what they do.  It’s so that you can help connect the people you know.  So that you can build your business, prepare yourself for the moment when you find yourself on the job hunt, and continue to push yourself in your career by gathering new information and resources.  GO NETWORK.

I network about once a week. Today I met a strategy consultant who offered to meet with me to discuss consulting as a career. Cool. I also met a current MBA candidate at UNC’s Kenan Flagler School of Business who offered to have lunch with me to discuss the program and put me in touch with other entrepreneurs who are doing cool things. He’s also an business analyst/consultant for NC IDEA and spends his time reviewing start-ups and their go-to-market strategies. He loves it.

If nothing else, networking can make you aware of all the people out there who have created their own cool jobs. The banker I was sitting next to at the talk told me about a client of his who managed to create a business and career for himself out of tagging and tracking sea turtles. Like my friend at NC IDEA, he loves it. Life is too short to do something you don’t love. If you need a little help dreaming, go network. The people you meet and the things they’re doing will amaze you.

Oh, and for the quants out there… Entrepreneur magazine does their best to calculate the ROI on Networking.  Not bad at all.

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