Prior to starting my blog and website My Thirsty Soul, I was an inspiring cake decorator. I thought that I wanted to be this famous cake decorator who decorated cakes for the stars and elite here in Atlanta. I would attend functions that others would invite me to to try and "network". I would introduce myself, shake a hand, exchange business cards and then turn to the next person and start all over. This "Hi-Bye" type of networking to me, is a waste of time.
Networking isn't just about meeting people to try to enhance your business or someone else's business. I believe it is about establishing and building relationships with other people for not just the here and now, but also for the future. I like to think of networking like an investment. You don't invest money in a stock you know nothing about. Investing money takes time and research and so does effective networking.
In my opinion, you get out what you put in. I know so many people who say they're not seeing success on such-and-such site or this one event they attended did not result in anything meaningful. But, when I ask what did they do to ensure they got something out of it, I get nothing. Because they did nothing.
I have been the one to collect a stack of business cards that just sit on my desk forever and ever until I finally throw them away. The truth is, I didn't know how to follow-up with people. I had no idea what to say. So, I just sat back waiting on them to call me and it never happened. Then, I started taking the initiative and sending that first email or making that first call. "Hi, Evonna. This is Lavada. We met day before yesterday at the luncheon. I'd love to talk with you and get to know more about you and your business..."
Initiative, confidence and sincerity. And, you can always get something out of a networking site or event.