This is a great article about the value of joining a Networking group posted by by Lori Welbourne of The Capital News.
Three years and four months ago, I was invited by one of my clients to go to a meeting hosted by Okanagan Business to Business, a local networking group he belonged to.
He told me the group met every Wednesday morning at the Holiday Inn in Westbank at 7:00 a.m.
I immediately disliked the idea and explained that I was too busy at that time of the day getting my kids ready and off to daycare. Not giving up so easily, he suggested that I change my routine for one day so I could attend a meeting to see what it was like.
Being the people-pleaser that I am, I reluctantly agreed.
That Wednesday my husband tended to the children while I had the luxury of getting just myself ready for the day. And as relaxing as that felt, I still managed to arrive at the meeting five minutes late.
Sheepishly taking a seat in a room full of strangers, I observed something I had never seen before, an organized group of business people, all there for the sole purpose of helping one another out through networking and referrals.
It was the group’s first meeting back after a summer break, so there were only about 15 people there. But it seemed like twice that many when it was my turn to get up and introduce myself.
As much as I disliked public speaking, to my surprise, it also felt a little exciting to be out of my comfort zone like that.
But what I liked most about the experience was the obvious opportunity to build relationships with other business people in the community, perhaps some people that I wouldn’t normally have contact with.
Being an advertising consultant with this newspaper, I meet a lot of people and my job is to help them with the growth of their businesses. So I guess it’s no surprise I would be attracted to an organization that nurtured that.
The famous American author Napoleon Hill once wrote: “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” That quote always made sense to me, like the old saying: what goes around comes around.
Clearly, that’s what this group was all about.
I also saw potential for it’s growth and thought of at least a dozen people who would appreciate this kind of opportunity to build relationships with other like-minded individuals.
That night I went home and asked my husband if he could take care of our kids every Wednesday if I was accepted as a member to the group. He agreed and I applied for membership the next week.
After the strong connections I made in the initial few months as a new member, I felt grateful to the group and wanted to give back. So I allowed my name to stand for an executive role for the following year.
A volunteer position, it proved to be much more work than I anticipated.
But like anything in life, what you put into it is what you get back. And as much work as I’ve put into the Okanagan Business to Business, I’ve gotten so much more in return.
It has opened doors and created opportunities that would be impossible for me to fully describe in a column as short as this one.
After serving two years on its executive, I had the honour of serving as its chairperson this past year.
After an incredibly rocky start and countless hours of communicating with one another about the direction we wanted our group to move in, we finally found a unified focus.
Through adversity we have become a much stronger team, made up of 54 local business people who share the same goal of helping one another succeed in business, and in life.
Last Wednesday was my final meeting as chairperson.
Standing in front of this group of dynamic businesspeople whom I admire and respect, I felt so much gratitude for the experiences they gave me, the life lessons I have learned and the strong relationships I have developed.
If there’s a business person out there who doesn’t belong to a networking organization of some kind, I would encourage them to find one that suits them, and then join it.
Because no matter how successful you aspire to be, or already feel you are, in business, and in life, you can never have too many good people on your side.
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