Why professional networking is important
We all know the power of building strong connections with other creative minds - it is food for our flower souls! They support us when we are discouraged and cheer us on when we succeed.
But what about other businesses out there? Bankers, landscapers, direct sales companies, restaurant owners? From BNI to local meetups, the opportunities to network with other businesses are endless, but... is it really beneficial to those of us in an industry as tight-knit as weddings? Our time is so precious, and sometimes it feels hard just to stay in touch with our wedding friends.
(Side note: If you are unfamiliar with business networking, you can view the super official definition here.)
Is it worth adding one more thing to our already full plates?
After networking in Tucson for three years, and running a group of my own (you can check out SABRE Networking here), my answer is an overwhelming YES!
Here are three reasons why I think that it is worth your time (and money!)
1. You could be missing something awesome and helpful!
There are two parts to this one – personal and business.
On the personal side, let me tell you, networking has brought so many blessings to our family! We have solar power, an excellent alarm system, fantastic AC technicians, a mechanic we can trust, a more organized house, my computer is virus free, and my iPhone is updated, we spend less money on household products and personal supplies, the list goes on. We literally bought a house too! We met our realtor through networking. It's like a one-stop shop. Being exposed to all of this local awesome-ness has made my life (and thus my business!) a whole lot easier.
Plus, because I have grown to know these business owners on a personal level, I trust giving them my money. And sending my friends and family to them.
On the business side, as wedding vendors, we all know the benefits of doing styled shoots. There are loads of other beneficial opportunities for collaboration out there, too!
Here is an example.
This photo, taken in the wee hours of the morning, shows a hairstylist (Jo at Studio London) and a florist working together to get an insurance agent video-ready for a promo shoot later that morning. My bestie, Erin Nutting, was launching her second insurance baby, Arizona Wedding Insurance, and asked me to provide some flowers for the shoot. There were many other businesses involved, too, and the result was marvelous. I would never have had the opportunity if I hadn't connected with Erin at SABRE Networking. At first glance, it wouldn't seem like an insurance agent and a wanna-be florist (I was in direct sales at the time) would do much work together.
It turns out, my connection to Erin is what ended up launching A Floral Note later that year. You never know what can happen, so don't turn away a new connection just because they are in a different industry.
2. You could learn a lot
Connecting with people outside of your industry is a great way to learn new things! There are so many opportunities to learn, and a networking group helps you get connected to those people and events.
Here are just a few of the types of workshops you might have access to:
- How to organize your home or office
- Small business finance and taxes
- Presentation and speaking skills
- How to dress for success in business
- Improving your memory
- State of the State or State of the City events (a State of the Union type event for your local area)
- Social media management
- Basic graphic design skills
- Goal setting
- Healthy eating, lifestyle, exercise, and general wellness
Sometimes these events are just for members of specific groups, other times they are open to everyone.
Either way, it is a lot easier to find out about these types of events when you are actively participating in a group. You are not alone in your quest for resources; the rest of your crowd is looking, too! If they know you are looking to improve in a particular area, and they hear about something that might help, they will pass that on to you.
Not only are there lots of opportunities for actual workshops, but simply being around business owners in other industries can give us a fresh perspective on business. If you are struggling in a certain area, and you keep trying different solutions, but nothing is working, you might need a fresh set of eyes or a new technique to try.
This is my friend Lara. She isn't in the wedding industry, and she doesn't work with flowers. She is, however, a rock star with her company, Thirty-One Gifts. This woman is a passionate leader, giver, and friend who leads by example. More than anyone else, she inspires and encourages me to put my faith and family first before my business!
At first glance, it may not seem like someone in the wedding industry has a lot to learn from someone in direct sales, but business is business no matter where you go. Even more so, people are people no matter where you go!
3. It’s not all about you
This is what it all comes down to. The Golden Rule in both life and business.
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Small business owners (yes, that’s us!) really can change the world. Because change starts small. It starts local. It starts with you. When you pay it forward, it comes back to you, and the cycle just keeps moving!
Many groups have opportunities to give back, either through donating money or volunteering time. A few dollars and a few hours can go a long way when used effectively! No matter what stage your business is in, there is always a way you can make a difference.
You might have a skill that someone else is lacking. Maybe you can teach a class, or maybe you just teach the person next to you how to take a selfie and post it on their business page.
Trust me, YOU have something that can help someone else. And if we all gave that little bit… see what happens here? It just keeps building up.
If you are struggling with being a giver in business, I encourage you to read The Go-Giver by Bob Burgh. It’s a short little book that completely changed the way that I view and conduct business! We love it so much at SABRE Networking that we award it to our members that are outstanding examples of being a giver in their business.
Here are the Bravos, who are not only rock stars in the insurance world, but, they are huge givers and are always looking for ways to help their customers and other businesses. They also personally inspire me to have a healthy work-marriage balance.
When you surround yourself with people who are both great at business AND give back, you will find yourself following in their footsteps. And that just sounds better for everyone.
Feeling inspired yet?
Want to give it a try?
What is the next step?
I recommend visiting a few groups several times before making a decision. All groups are a little different and vary from time and location to mission and meeting format. Some have financial costs and member requirements, and others have a low cost or free approach. Start by talking to business owners you know, especially ones that have been doing business in your town or city for a while. They might already be a member of a group so you could attend with them as a guest, or perhaps they aren't a member, but they know of a good one to visit on your own.
Take your time finding the group that is best for you and your business. When you are first starting, it can be so exciting that you want to jump in right away. Just remember, networking takes time! Allow yourself time to build trust and connections will follow.
Since we are all flower folk here: Networking is like growing your very own flowers from seed. From purchasing the seeds to starting them to moving them outside to keeping them watered, it is a significant investment of time before you see results!
If you give up along the way, then you will never get to the big blooms. And what a bummer that would be! How sad would the world be if no one took the time and patience to grow and nurture tiny seedlings into beautiful blossoms.
So whatever you decide to do, just be consistent and stick with it a few months. Consistency goes a long way in the networking world. While it is unlikely that your business will be transformed in the first week, over time, you will find whole new doors of opportunity opening.
If you would like help finding a group or your area, or just have some questions, don't hesitate to reach out in the comments! Let's all work together and share what we have learned, one connection at a time.