The Real Value of Networking
My house is having a bad week, and it turned to me for help. Being the handy guy I am, I turned to my phone. There was some water reaching my ceiling from the attic, so I called a roofer, who suggested meeting me at home within an hour, but he was turned away at the last minute by driving rain and a little lightning (wimp). He came first thing the next morning. The problem turned out to be AC-related, so the AC guy came the next day, and his name is on the truck.
While all this was happening, I was busy with work – preparing to launch a new email newsletter program specifically for optometrists. I had written a sales letter, created a sample newsletter and produced a short video for YouTube that explains the program. But rather than just sending everything to my list of prospects, I called on an eye doctor and asked her opinion. Within a couple hours, she called me back with input, great ideas and an offer to send it to another doctor for her comments.
Am I getting special treatment? Maybe. Am I someone important? Not really. What I am is part of a group of about 50 business people who meet weekly to share leads, referrals and ideas and help each other out however we can. There are several groups like this — I happen to like the format our local Chamber provides for its Leads Groups.
That is a lot of help from people in a single week, but if you could hear the stories at our Leads Group meetings, you would know that it is not unusual. Over time, these groups develop a real family dynamic, which includes genuine concern for each others’ well-being.
I have learned that the real value of networking is not getting an extra 10 percent off your bill or tons of free consulting, it is about being able to pick up the phone after hours or on a weekend and get help when you need it. It is about getting advice from an expert on something you know nothing about. It is about creating work friendships that can turn into real friendships.
Of everything I have done to develop my business, I have found nothing more rewarding or productive than my Chamber Leads Group. If you have a chance to be part of something similar, I strongly recommend it. It is well worth the time.