Making a 2009 Networking goal is MAGIC!

I have always loved to network. Yes, it is in my blood somehow. But sometimes even I have to push myself to go to more events.

Last year I made a very mild goal of attending a minimum of two networking events every month. Within 4 months, I had attended enough events to cover my “quota” for the rest of the year.

The thing about going to networking events is that they are magic!

Do you remember when you were a small child and the excitement you felt about your upcoming birthday? It seemed like it would NEVER happen. But eventually it did…after months and months of telling people you were 5 ½ and then 5 ¾ years old. And then, on that day, wrapped gifts of different shapes and sizes would “appear”. The unknown contents of those packages just seemed magical.

Consider a networking event to be one of those wrapped gifts. Seriously! You don’t know what the event holds for you, but the possibilities are endless! It may sound corny but it is very true.

It is easy for us to sit at our computers everyday and "network" using all of our very cool tools like Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and online forums, but nothing replaces that face-to-face connection. The smile, the handshake, the opportunity to see the passion in someone’s eyes when they answer the basic networking question “So, what do you do?”

The funny thing is that it is usually the events that I have to force myself to attend, maybe because I am too busy or just not feeling very well or I don’t want to spend the money, where I discover the most amazing new connections!

There is one important thing to keep in mind, especially with regard to my gift analogy. Please remember that while there are gifts at these events for you to obtain, you are also a potential gift to someone else. We need to remember this for two reasons:

1. We don’t want to act like we are only there to meet people who are beneficial to us, such as potential new clients, etc. and come off as selfish
2. I believe in “networking karma” which happens when you offer your own gifts to others. "Gifts" could include information about a cool group or another upcoming networking event or even just a contact name for one purpose or another.

So, as my dear pal, Irene Koehler says…Step Away From the Computer and get out there in-person! Give yourself a goal of how many events you will attend each month and then blow it out! You will benefit in the end, I promise!

Below are some events to help get you started. If you live in the Bay Area or are just going to be here for one reason or another, why don’t you come join me and meet some amazing new people?

1/5/09 Entrepreneur & Small Business Academy January Meetup, Topic: On...

1/14/09 Step AWAY from the Computer: A Networking Event

1/20/09 I’ll be presenting the Solopreneur and the job-seeker side of the topic: “Twitter Means Business”

1/22/09 The Yelp Business Success Panel

1/26/09 Women On Boards Conference

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Comment by Shawn Lacagnina on January 3, 2009 at 8:13pm
Every year I say I will do more traditional networking...and every year I don't follow through. Thanks for the reminder.
Comment by Valerie Gonyea on January 4, 2009 at 5:06pm
Hi Shawn,

I know, it really takes commitment. I think the key is to find a couple groups you really like and then experiment with other group periodically. That's my approach, anyway.

Happy New Year to you!
- Valerie
Comment by pam claughton on January 4, 2009 at 6:36pm

How have these live networking events benefited you? Can you go into more detail? Have they resulted in new clients? Or candidates placed? I've been considering doing more face-to-face in the coming year, but have been wondering how effective they are vs. online and overall time spent.

Comment by Valerie Gonyea on January 5, 2009 at 10:56am
Hi Pam,

Going to live or "traditional" networking events has allowed me to build a network of local professionals. The relationships are built much faster in-person than they are through online tools because it is I said, you get to actually see the smile, feel the passion, etc. Having a strong local support system has been, for me, an incredible resource for launching my new business and getting support, advice, resources, etc. Or to just grab a cup of coffee when my day has been particularly challenging!

While there are a number of online resources, there are also plenty of local resources available and plenty of local events to participate in which increase my visibility. Since you are a recruiter, getting out into your professional environment allows you to meet potential clients and candidates. Yes, in fact, the first placement I ever made was a gal that I met at an in-person networking event. I once got a job as a result of meeting someone at a networking event.

The thing is, traditional networking is magic because you just never know what will come of it. I've had people track me down for one purpose or another years after meeting me at events.

I believe that there is value in online networking but I DON'T believe that it can or should replace good ol' fashioned eyeball-to-eyeball relationship building. Hope this helps...



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