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Building Your Business Community

Courtesy of Heather Davis, Red Lunar Media & Events, Published on LinkedIn

 Nearly every week there is a minimum of one networking event going on in the Lehigh Valley. Networking events range from happy hour mixers, workshop lunches, to local ribbon cuttings. The third Thursday of the month the Young Professional Council hosts a networking mixer at a new up-and-coming restaurant or bar. Every first Monday the Allentown Chamber Council plans networking mixers in Downtown Allentown.  The Lehigh Valley Elite Network meet at Bucca De Beppo to mingle and network every second Tuesday of the month.  Just think of all the different people you can meet with such a variety of networking events just down the street from you. That is what networking is all about; meeting other business professionals.

 Some people make the mistake of going to a networking event with the sole goal of increasing business sales. If networking is done correctly, new business is inevitable; however, it is not recommended to make it your goal walking in to the events. Wanting to meet a possible mentor or someone you can bounce ideas off of, are more realistic goals to set. On the flip side, remember you have something to give as well. You may be able to be a mentor, provide advice, or give a referral to help another out.  It should be a give and take experience. Career Key stated it perfectly in “How to build networking for greater success..”:

 “Networking is about creating a community of people that will support  each other,  who provide emotional support and information that will help each other. You will learn of new developments in your field: new tools, processes, leaders, training programs, products and services. You may discover the solution to a problem you face at work. And, you may have the satisfaction of providing the key piece of information that makes a real difference in the life of one of those in your network.”

 Career Key hit the nail on the head when discussing the benefits of networking. You may not get new business or increased sales right away but the community you build will help you grow your business in various ways. One way may be through a conversation you have with another business professional that helps you see a situation you are having at your own business in a different light. Another way is through references. As other professionals get to know you, trust, and respect you they will refer business to you. It is inevitable. This is this situation that the phrase “a single person is at the center of many more” comes into play. 

 Building this business community is work though. It is not just stopping by a mixer here and there, gathering some business cards, and high-tailing it home.  There are going to be nights or days you are tired and don’t want to mingle or “force” conversation but, if you want to grow, it is a requirement. Get yourself out there and you will be surprised. Most people at networking events are there to build their own business community and are happy to meet you, hear a little about your business, and tell you about themselves. Networking events are where the first building blocks and the foundation of your community are laid. The follow up and connections made outside of the networking event is where relationships really start to flourish.

 Building, strengthening, and maintaining your business community is an ongoing adventure that will benefit you and your business in more ways than you can image.  It will encourage inspiration and growth in yourself as an individual and as a business professional; which will help you achieve your end goal of business growth. So push yourself to attend local networking events on a regular basis. You know there are plenty out there in which to participate. Meet new people and start building your own professional community to help encourage, support, and inspire you which will bring business and personal growth to your life.
 

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