“Networking has been cited as the number one unwritten rule of success in business. Who you know really impacts what you know.” -Sallie Krawcheck
This past week, I attended a conference in Phoenix Arizona, and I left there a changed person. Yes, the content that was covered was exceptional, but what I wanted to share with you is how valuable and life-altering conferences in general can be.
For many of us entrepreneurs, our work can be lonely—especially if we do it alone which is the case for many solopreneurs. Being in the presence of other professionals with different insights, varying degrees of experience, and a cornucopia of expertise offers so many unforeseen benefits. This kind of networking is vital to maintaining and growing your business. Here’s why:
1. Networking is key. When you open yourself up to networking, you have a much larger pool of people with whom to connect. You may want to grow your target audience, and getting acquainted with others through networking offers you the opportunity to be introduced to their contacts, people you might not otherwise reach. In addition, the person you meet at the networking event can give their contacts a personal recommendation which can be invaluable.
2. Broaden your circle of friends. For many of us, our circle of friends have been cultivated over the years. We may have some friends from childhood, some from our teenage or college years, and others from various stages in our adult life. And, we may have evolved dramatically since those days. So let me ask you, do you have friends that are engaged in the type of work that you do? Do you have friends following a similar career path as yours? Attending conferences offers you the opportunity to meet other like-minded people who might be facing similar obstacles, pursuing similar goals, and who can relate to your drive and motivation in ways that some other lifelong friends may not.
3. Knowledge is golden. To stay abreast of trends, new technology, and cutting edge techniques, you need to immerse yourself in constant learning. You may be an expert in your field, but oftentimes when working, we are following a proven pattern or routine rather than exploring new possibilities. How will you discover the latest in your industry? By attending conferences you will expose yourself to consistent learning that can be critical for your growth and your company’s overall success.
4. The fun factor. For most of us, work can begin to feel monotonous if there is no variety to it. Conferences offer you a nice change of pace to your work that can even be fun! Most conferences spice up their event with some fun socializing opportunities. I have been to some conferences that host a wine tasting, a happy hour, or an interactive magic show. It’s a great way to mix business and pleasure!
I know that many of you may feel uncomfortable putting yourself out there in this type of setting where you don’t know other people and you feel awkwardly vulnerable. Trust me, I get it! But remember that everyone attending the conference is in the same boat, and they too are eager to meet people. So be dynamic and put yourself out there. The benefits absolutely outweigh any temporary discomfort you might feel.
“To be vulnerable - to really put yourself out there, and lean into it – is to live courageously.” -Brene Brown