Monday, February 1, 2010

Making your Networking Membership work for YOU!

Since business professionals join networking groups at various experience levels, not every individual feels completely comfortable promoting themselves, let alone others.

That's okay. Today we are going to nail that subject with some basic anti-fear, "get out there and make it happen" techniques. First, let's dispel three of the most common networking group "myths."

Networking Group Myths:

1. For every ten individuals that join a networking group fully aware of the committment that is involved, there are always one or two business owners who mistakenly see a networking group as a tool that should run on autopilot...not so.

2. Another myth is the thought that other business owners, who are members, have the time or inclination to look through the list of members and automatically use them for their own needs, as well as referring them without reservation to their personal friends, family, and other businesses...also, not so.

3. The third and final myth. In order to work properly, women's networking groups should be made up of college educated professionals who are well established in the community. Yes...and no.

Networking Group Facts:

Now that we let the air out of those tires, let's parallel the myths with the realistic balance involved in a productive and thriving professional women's networking group.

1. Networking groups don't run on autopilot. Professional networking membership groups are set up in an effort to provide the ideal atmosphere for business professionals to dive right in and start mingling with full confidence in the fact that the other businesses are not only legitimate, but also interested in the networking and referral plan of action. Basically, a networking group does the legwork for its members, providing events, monthly meeting locations, business education, inviting and recruiting others, etc.

2. Want referrals? Be memorable. Other members have thoughts and desires very simular to your own. You are probably not going to remember another member who is not outgoing or proactive; neither are they. In order to make the most of your membership, you will have to take a deep breath, fight your fears, and get out there and network! Attend the events and meetings, have a positive attitude, and take your place in the community. No one ever gets a free ride. There is a certain amount of dedication and work that goes into every relationship you develop.

3. Networking groups should be made up of a balanced blend of both college educated professionals as well as the energetic self-starter who took a chance and made an entrepreneurial idea work for them. Everyone has their own circle or scope of influence and no one should be disconnected. As a matter of fact, the business owner who is in the sales or service industry is probably more likely to have a casual chat with their clients which are conducive to the whole referral process.

Now that we've busted through all of the possible misconceptions and realigned our thinking, let's make the decision to make a dedicated effort to networking in 2010. Whether you are a Lee or Collier county work from home mom, an established attorney, vice president of one of our local banking establishments, or a sales rep, one thing is certain in today's economy...We all need each other.

Joining a local women's networking group is a big step in the right direction. Empowered Network, an area driven professional women's group, can fulfill several purposes. Professional SW Florida women can connect for positive mentoring experiences, roundtable support and idea groups, as well as offering referrals for their new business connections. In an ideal world, this is what is supposed to occur in a netorking group. So let's make this Empowered Network work for us!