Networking has always been one of those things that most people should do, but sometimes don’t do, or don’t do well. There are a variety of networking opportunities available out there in most industries, and a little research goes a long way to find good options for yourself. When deciding upon these options though, I think that you need to choose the best opportunity, for yourself and your business, or at least the best combination. And it always should revolve around your goals.
Gone are the days where you may have simply attended a meeting in your
geographic area or had a simple telephone conversation with a colleague in the field. So much has developed with the advent of the World Wide Web that now you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home to participate in networking opportunities.
Whether you choose online networking through LinkedIn for example or face to face through business functions, your choice really needs to work for you. And don’t stop at just one type of networking; why not create a strategy that includes a variety of opportunities including face to face and online? You might find that one type works better for you personally but don’t limit yourself. You might miss out on a wonderful opportunity.
Being in the recreation field, there are a number of networking opportunities that come across my desk on a regular basis; some in-person workshops or conferences and others as part of an online community network. I can’t really say that I prefer in-person or online better. But I think that it depends on the type of opportunity it is. For example, I correspond quite regularly with colleagues in my field from other municipalities; so much so that many of us were receiving an overabundance of emails on the same subject material. I’m sure you can relate. One of the colleagues developed an online forum or chat room for us to post questions on various topics and we could post replies at our leisure and search for information. And voila, the Municipal Fitness Forum was born.
Not only is this a great resource for me, but it has now recently morphed into an in-person forum through another network. It’s great how things develop.
I cannot say that I currently have a set strategy for professional networking or at least not a formal one. But I do participate in a variety of networks and professional development opportunities that help guide my way. Some examples of these are listed here:
- Older Adult Centres of Ontario (OACAO) has a Listserve available for its members
- Aurora-based Older Adult networking group
- Subscribe to various organizations and newsletters online…i.e. Mind Tools
Although some of these require a paid membership, I have found it has been quite useful to me in developing my skill set in my field as well as networking with other professionals in a variety of industries.
As far as my commitments in the next 6-12 months to continue this development of my networks? I am planning to continue on the current road I am on, hoping those wonderful opportunities will develop along the way. Through the Social Media Program, I have also developed some networking contacts that I’m hoping will continue once the program is completed. We can all learn from one another, no matter what our industry or business.
Networking is not only a wonderful approach to develop your skills and knowledge but it’s a great way to connect with others in your chosen field, near and far. What’s best for you may not be best for me, but let’s chat about that.