By Allen F. Weitzel
Hello again. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I look forward to your comments, suggestions and ideas. After reading, please let us know your networking ideas and success stories. I will be sure to respond.
Network, Network, Network
The “Networking” phrase had become a tired business cliché until the explosion of social Web sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the like. Now, the business world has been re-energized with the concept of staying in touch with fellow professionals.
Is Networking Important?
Networking is valuable. You and your fellow professionals can share experiences, education, tips and tricks. When a similar problem or new regulation that affects all facilities comes along, professionals can easily make contact to discuss and clarify their understanding of it. Networking with other facilities and experts is vital to improving your operations and staying current.
Besides Internet sites, you can stay in touch with professionals by joining industry organizations, attending seminars, conventions and luncheons where you can meet industry experts as well as your counterparts. Volunteering to be part of association committees and boards also puts you in touch. When asked to introduce yourself at such events, always add your title or job function to your introduction. Someone may approach you later on and ask for more details. Then you can swap contact information.
The secret to networking is to stay in touch with your contacts. As a writer and trainer, I share notices about my writing projects or tips on training. I let my contacts know that they are not required to respond, but it keeps our networking alive. If you are seeking information from a colleague, it should not be a one-way street. Be willing to share data if you want to receive data in return. When one of your counterparts leaves a facility, contact the new replacement, and introduce yourself. Invite counterparts to bring their family to your facility for a day of fun.
Other Networking Sources
Many facilities have their own Facebook and Twitter Web pages. You cannot help but network on these sites. You will receive comments from counterparts, and customers alike. It is easy to respond and stay in touch.
You, no doubt, know the name of a professional who seems to know everyone and every resource in your industry. Make an effort to become acquainted with them through network sources. This person could be vital to you when confronted with a concern that seems insurmountable. Be sure you maintain this vital relationship.
Ask your suppliers to introduce you to other professionals, to broaden your circle of contacts.
One other principle counterpart is your own personal mentor, that professional whom you can call and ask those little “almost embarrassing,” simple, or silly questions.
Volunteer to speak at local high schools and colleges for career days. This might appear to be a one-way street, but sometimes you get lucky and meet folks with whom you can network and learn a few tricks. You might also attract some very good potential employees who might not otherwise have thought about seeking employment in your facility.
Do not ignore networking with the local police and fire departments. You should know them as well as they know you. They can be a valuable source of safety information for your facility.
Networking really does lead to success. One of my best networking results was when I met an industry counterpart at our annual convention. He talked me into joining the IAAPA Safety Committee. As a committee member, we were required to write industry articles. I wrote quite a few commentaries, and as a result, editors from other venues contacted me to write for their periodicals.
Remember, “It is not always what you know, sometimes it is who you know.” Let us know your networking success stories!