Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Networking Journey

(part one in a continuing series)

I've been working my business for the last 19 months, and I've learned a lot about networking and the difference between referrals and leads. I don't know everything yet about referral network marketing, but I like to call myself a life-learner, and a life-learner never stops learning something new. In this series I'll pretty much bare my soul and outline my journey from the start. No finish yet, it has yet to be played out!

Once I made the decision to hang my sign and launch my business, my journey with networking began with research. I went to and looked up networking to see how it was currently defined. I then used and to find networking groups in my area. Sounds pretty easy, right?

The research was the easy part! My search led me to groups within my zip code, within the city of Phoenix, and also led me to the organization BNI. From this point it's a matter of trying out groups you think you might fit in well with, ones that may share a common interest of yours (i.e. heart disease, autism, etc.), or ones that are lead generators. Believe me, it was a long list to weed through.

My research also led me to Dave Sherman and The Business Journal of Phoenix. Through a seminar Dave held in conjunction with TBJ, I learned how to use certain pages of TBJ to my advantage and help build my business. He also talked about networking groups as a general topic, so I decided to ask him more about it after the seminar. He told me there's no good way to determine if a group is a good one to join or not unless you go check it out. That's a hard one to swallow. No one in business likes to waste time, and some of these functions may indeed become a leech for time. The key? Remembering I was only visiting, and a visit is not the same as a commitment. Besides, I was still handing out my business cards, still getting the word out, and that was important to me as well.

I found my Westside Creatives group through This group is very important for my business growth from a knowledge base standpoint. Because this group has individuals all working in different areas within my industry, I can stay on top of trends and concerns while learning what specialties my colleages enjoy tackling. This was a huge plus for my early business days! This valuable experience taught me networking doesn't always have to be about business. Also, the more I visited and networked with other people, I realized networking in general isn't about getting more business -- it's learning about people and the organizations you're aligned with and best I can help them. In short, it's about building and maintaining relationships.

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