Networking groups are growth machines. The good ones assist in your business and your personal growth. In networking groups people of all skills and occupations come together to share information and to help each other.
There you will most likely find your mentors. A network of “go-to” people you can support you with what you need and are capable of serving as an informal group and as personal mentors.
Networking is not just about getting “leads,” it’s also about helping others. There are many learning opportunities if you are paying attention. The more you collaborate, the faster you will develop a trusting, long-term relationship. The rewards are obvious and many, and the risk is virtually non-existent. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by developing a collaborative mentor.
A networking mentor is someone with more business experience than you who serves as a trusted confidante over an extended period of time, often free of charge. Why do they do this? First and foremost as a way of giving back to their community and to society at large. It’s a two-way street. You learn from them and they learn from you. Usually this requires someone who is knowledgeable, compassionate, and possesses the attributes of a good teacher or trainer and who takes a personal interest in the mentoring relationship.
Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together with common goals – for example, an intellectual endeavor that is creative in nature – by sharing knowledge, learning and building consensus with one another.
The collaborative method of interacting in groups is said to allow for full immersion into the process thereby helping all who are willing to share. Networking groups whose members really get that are the ones worthy of your attendance. They are designed to promote collaborative thinking that enhances your business and personal growth as well as encouraging collaboration with each other regarding business referrals.
You can collaborate in groups to solve business related problems. It can be interesting and fun. When it is, there is a connection and the sense of a shared goals. Collaborative group thinking often occurs only when you request it. Be a request for the assistant that you need. Being shy about asking can only limit your potential.
When you begin generating ideas and in trying to select the right ideas that work, you don’t need consensus, you need diversity of thought. This will allow your thinking to expand and will give you more than one idea to put into practice.
You can collaborate about job searches. According to BH Careers International, 80 percent of all available jobs are not formally posted. Landing a position is more easily accomplished through word of mouth networking. Tell people what you are looking for.
Networking demands relationship building. It’s a process and it can be a deceptively complex one. It must be strategic and focused and it takes time. Be patient. You cannot rush a close friendship.
No one gets to the top of the mountain alone. Why would we want to when the view is so much better when surrounded by friends? – Kristen Marie Schuerlein
When you share information intended to help someone else, you transcend all differences. Your own greatness expands with the collective power of the group.
Yes, it’s true. There are those to choose to keep their strategies close to the vest. Having said that, I watch for people like that and avoid them like the plague. It has been my experience that the more successful you are the more inclined to share what others need to know and ask you for.
It is important to mingle with people who are committed to understanding each others business goals, target markets and value statements in order to assist in marketing each others business through quality business referrals and assistance to each other. The synergy of the group is key to its success.
In networking you must have clarity of intention, faith, trust and a team of amazing people in your support group that are committed to sharing some of their secrets to success without reservation.
If there is no collaborative spirit in the group I recommend that you move on to another group. I have discovered that some of the very large networking events are often places where people – who know very little about networking – come to hand out a bunch of business cards and meet as many people as possible. There are so many people there that you cannot possibly have the time to truly develop a relationship, ask questions or offer assistance. Those who attend are so excited about all the people there that they become scattered in their efforts and end up with a ton of business cards on their desk and not much else.
These kind of groups are rampant with people who subscribe to the notion of “what’s in it for me.” In spite of what a networking group might call itself many business networks are little more than loose associations of companies who barely know each other – these are networking’s loose cannons – and have not invested in learning to collaborate with one another.
These kind of opportunistic business networks believe that when they make the first contract that will be time enough to learn to collaborate. Not! I look to see if the group is constantly forging new connections to enhance value for its members.
Networking is not about the quantity of people who attend, it is the quality. To get the most out of your networking experience, you need to build a relationship with people who you want to have contact with.
Opportunity isn’t always obvious. That’s why it is important to seek out and contribute to a networking group where each person gives willingly to the others. There you will find find something very powerful at work and a treasure of close business associates that know that contribution is what networking is all about.
Another supportive BLOG post: Read, “The Joy of Collaboration” by Ian Percy.
Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Can’t find my book in your bookstore, order a signed copy from Larry James. Visit Larry’s “Networking HQ” Website; articles, tips, networking books and more!
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