Who You Know Always Matters
The value of networking cannot be underestimated.
Whether you’re working for someone else, trying to grow in an area of your career or industry, or contemplating going out on your own, networking is very valuable. First, because networking leads to building new relationships. And relationships are everything.
There is always something that somebody else can help provide to you and you can provide to somebody else. It’s important to know what you bring to the table – and to realize that you can’t possibly know everything. Listening to others, learning from them, is how we expand our intellectual capabilities and move forward.
Of course, I’m the first to admit that I get nervous walking into a networking event. All those people circulating, shoving their business cards in my face. Not my favorite setting.
But, once there, it can be very confidence-building.
And, it’s not an immediate gratification, so it builds patience, and the long view. You might meet somebody in May and wait two years before that person pops into your mind because their service or offer or talent is valuable to you in a new way. Or vice versa.
I firmly believe that no meeting is ever in vain. There is always a next step, even if you don’t see it immediately. You just never know where one interaction will lead, or the long chain of connections that weaves through our lives.
For me, it’s important to network within my legal community, but opportunities outside of my industry are also important.
One of my favorite legal community networking opportunities brings professionals involved in family law together monthly for lunch and a speaker through the Michigan Interprofessional Association – attorneys, judges, Friend of the Court referees, mental health professionals, financial people, and more. It’s low-key and you can talk one-on-one with people at your table, at a leisurely pace.
Sometimes I go to events because I know it’s good to be seen. I tell my Collaborative friends, you have to show up at meetings if you want to get more cases, to show that you’re interested in working on relationships. Simply put, you have to put in the effort to reap the reward. Always. In every situation, be it personal or professional.
I also network through the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber. I participate in the Chamber’s Business Pioneers Action Group, where I am the only family law attorney. Sometimes I feel like I can’t take that hour out of my day but I do it anyway because I’m building long-term powerful relationships.
Finally, networking has to happen in areas where you are passionate. I get involved in political campaigns, and I am dedicated to my spiritual community. I am involved with Hazon and AIPAC, growing my reach in areas of great interest to me. Maybe it will help my career, and maybe it won’t. But it helps me as a person, which always boosts every realm of your life.
To be successful in your work, you basically have to know who you are and what matters to you – and share that with others. Where are you going to start?