When I moved from the Chicago area to Worcester, Massachusetts in June 2007, I networked like crazy, to meet new people, which has been great for my business and social life. Some of my activities included joining Toastmasters, serving on the sisterhood board of my synagogue, and belonging to a bi-monthly business networking group.
Networking was challenging for me, being new in town, along with my introverted personality, which means that I need “downtime” after being with groups of people. Just to clarify: introverts get their energy from spending time alone; extroverts thrive from interactions with others…and introversion has nothing to do with the ability to socialize with people. So, you can say that I’m a well-socialized introvert who can bring out my “inner extrovert” at will.
Over time, I began to burn-out from too many activities, besides dealing with personal and family issues which needed my attention. So, toward the end of 2010, I began to gradually excuse myself from networking obligations and limited my activities to an occasional event, as long as it fit my budget, interest and schedule.
Eventually, my networking activities dwindled down to nothing...and I became “lazily” comfortable, working at home behind my computer, with limited contact to the outside world, except for public speaking engagements, routine medical appointments, and traveling to visit family for holidays and special occasions.
Along with my slow-down in networking activities, I noticed an equally slow time in business and felt like I’d gotten myself into a rut. I also realized that I wasn’t practicing what I preach to my job-seeking clients: that most opportunities come from networking, which is also true for business owners and private practitioners like me.
So, in August and September 2014, I decided to break out of my rut and get back out there! Even though I’m not a fan of after-hours mixers, I attended a Worcester Chamber of Commerce mixer at a local antique mall. I also participated in a public speaking seminar led by a PR expert and former Worcester TV news anchor, as well as an all-day women’s event (Respect Her Hustle EntreprenHER Summit) sponsored by a Boston-based film producer.
My goal for these events was just to get out, meet new people and have fun…and that’s exactly what happened! Besides this, I feel re-energized and out of my rut…PLUS, I’ve seen a noticeable up-tick in new business and inquiries about my service.
Now, I can’t exactly say that the new business and inquiries are the direct result of my activities. However, what I HAVE noticed is that the more I’m “out there,” the more new opportunities come my way, whether from people I meet at events…or from somewhere or someone else, completely unrelated to these activities.
I call this phenomenon: “Shaking the Trees of the Universe” - my own “spin” on Newtonian physics, about a body at rest and a body in motion: “Action Begets Action – Inertia Leads Nowhere.” In other words, the busier you are, the busier you’ll get!
So, whether you’re a job-seeker or a business owner looking for new clients, I strongly encourage you to get out from behind your computer and attend live, local events where you’ll meet like-minded people. These can be seminars or summits like the ones I attended; or even educational programs sponsored by professional associations you may belong to.
You’ll learn about these local events through listings in the business calendar of your town’s newspaper, chamber of commerce newsletter, or regional business journal. Just go, have fun…and watch what happens. If you are lucky enough to meet someone who connects you with your next career opportunity or new client (whether directly or indirectly) this is icing on the cake!
Well, that’s it for now! I hope you’ve enjoyed my insights about networking and that you can apply the lessons I’ve learned to your own work/life situation