Think about every friendship you have…more than likely, it started because either you or your friend reached out. I've really been thinking about the power of reaching out to other people and networking with other people because I've seen the results of this throughout the month of March.
I get at least a few emails every week asking how to get advertisers on your blog, how to start a business, or how to meet certain types of people.
My advice for all of these? Reach out and network. Your network really is your net worth. Here are some ways I have reached out and networked in different areas of my life.
Although I'm attending the same institute for my graduate program as I did for my undergrad, I knew and I wanted my experience to be different. One major difference, I didn't know anyone in my classes when I started school in January. For the past few years, I've known several people in all of my classes and could walk around campus and see familiar faces. But when I returned to Georgia Tech in January, things were different and I kind of had to start over. Reaching out and networking is challenging when you haven't had to do it in a while…I'm a witness. But it's really necessary whenever you're starting a new chapter in life. I got to know a young woman in my orientation group, I've been getting to know classmates by studying with them and through group projects, and by getting involved in extracurricular activities. I see myself forming new relationships with people who have a similar passion as I do, and it's exciting! Another great aspect of networking in your personal life is that it often carries over into your professional/work life for the better.
For the past few weeks, I've been trying to find an academic mentor/advisor for my grad program. Then one day, I read a professor's bio and she seriously had the career path that I dream of. I knew she would be a great selection for my mentor, but I had never met the woman! I sent her an email, introducing myself and asking for her mentorship during my grad program. Three days went by, and I didn't hear back. The next day, I spotted her at a luncheon we were both attending. I knew it was the perfect opportunity to mention my email and follow up with my request. It turns out, I had sent my email to an old address, and she was extremely excited and willing to serve as my advisor. I sent her a follow up email after the luncheon, we set up a time to meet, and I'm beyond thrilled to have met her and to now have her as my academic mentor. Just think if I would have given up after not receiving an email response...
If you're interested in turning your blog or online presence into a business, reaching out is a must. You cannot expect people to find you, you have to seek out others. I blogged just for fun (not seeking viewers) for a few months before I realized that blogging could be a business. That's when I created marketing materials, a business plan, and a list of potential sponsors for my blog. Then, I persistently reached out to those sponsors. Most of them did not respond, and maybe never even opened the email. But overtime, I started getting responses. Those responses led to business transactions, networking opportunities, and paid sponsorships.
Regardless of your work situation, reaching out and networking is an option. Every person has a story, but you'll never know that story or learn of possible connections to a person's story if you don't reach out. I've been at my job for a few months, and every week I make a point to speak to someone new and start a conversation with him or her. Sometimes, the conversation doesn't go for more than 30 seconds. But there have been a few cases where the conversation has led to making connections and networking. One woman I met at work turned out to be a family friend for my current roommate! It's such a small world, and reaching out proves that true.
Starting/running your own business
I'm very grateful to God that March was an enormously successful month of business for my communications firm. I couldn't have imagined the new clients, photo sessions, and requests that happened during the month. In February, I made a strong effort to share my business in a way I really hadn't yet…word of mouth. Whenever I saw a friend, acquaintance, and even classmates…I shared my company's services with him or her. While not all of those people were clients during March, many of those people passed the message along, and helped expand my company's network.
I hope this is true for other people!
How has reaching out and/or networking helped you in your life?