Any good association executive knows that networking can make or break an association. Great networking can lead to strong connections, an unbreakable web in your local and professional community, and committed members. Not to mention your association’s events have the potential to be “THE” events to attend to meet people. Wouldn’t it be great if college students were all anxious to graduate so they could join your association, make connections, and charge into the future?
We talk about networking quite a bit on the MC Talks blog, and we were thrilled to see our pal Tom Morrison post about it on his blog too. Tom is a Florida association executive, speaker, and if you’ve ever met him you’d know he’s a networking pro. Read his blog here!
Tom points out that networking is a great skill that’s vital yet never really taught to children or even as adult business people. Honestly, that’s probably true. There’s definitely a fine line of comfort in the networking world, and it’s easy to be too passive or too aggressive when dealing with new connections. Plus online networking has rewritten some of the rules.
Tom goes on to make several great points about networking, but one that really stood out was that you can never really quit. Networking, according to Tom, is “continuous and perpetual... it never stops.”
That seems like a lot of time to be “on” and could be discouraging, but when you think about it, it’s true. Even if you’re not shaking hands and kissing babies (just kidding, please don’t kiss anything) you should still have an open posture, an inviting expression, and a willing spirit to meet new people. Withdrawn attitudes or sticking with the same one or two people in a closed-off little clique isn’t conducive to good connections, even if that’s where you’re comfortable.
But I also don’t think you have to be “on” 24/7 either. Having met Tom, I can safely say that he’s just a friendly guy. He probably networks when he doesn’t even mean to. Many association executives are like that, and it makes sense. They work with a lot of people.
Even if you’re not such an outgoing “people person” networking is still simpler than you think. First of all, it’s one of those skills that everyone thinks you have to be “born with” but that’s just not true. You can absolutely get better with practice. And secondly, really all networking is just making human connections, whether at a corporate event or a baseball game.
Tom wraps up his blog by pointing out that networking is both instant gratification and a waiting game. True, you make those connections immediately and some of them you can put right to use brainstorming, bouncing ideas around, or submitting work. But many connections don’t really show their true value for several years. You never know when you’ll meet your future boss.
Need more tips on networking?