I am often asked about networking and here is a question I got recently:
I am starting over in the business world and everyone talks about networking……tell me where to start?
Calm down, you have been networking all your life, you just did not know it. From the time you connected with your preschool friends to high school and sports, working, clubs and beyond you have been networking. Networking is connecting with others and working towards building a relationship in which you might do business with them. You need to know, like and trust your connections and it takes time.
There are many networking groups in the area and you need to find the ones that resonates with you. Some things to consider are timing, when the groups meet, does this work with your schedule? Location, can you easily get there? Cost, is it affordable? Expectations of the group?
My suggestion is that you check out at least 3 groups. You can look them up online, see if any of your friends are currently attending any of their meetings, or just go for it and show up! Head held high, business cards in one pocket and a bright smile. If you are shy, look for someone else there who might look as you do and approach them. You could make them feel better by saying this is your first time too.
Do you have friends that network? Ask them if you can tag along and check it out. Make a plan to check things out and meet up at a certain spot in the room in 15 minutes and see how it is going.
Be friendly, listen and be open to meeting some awesome people. Happy Networking!