Where would you be without your network?
In business, as in life, the connections we've made often mean the difference between success and something less favorable.
Three things have made a difference for me:
Look at your contact list from a different vantage point: Even bonafide introverts can get a head start on making valuable connections. Look at your lists - friends on social networking sites, contacts already etched into your iPhone - from a new view. Consider the skills and expertise of those you already know and categorize it accordingly. The next time you're seeking a graphic designer, you may be surprised to find you already know 10 talented individuals, any of whom may appreciate a referral.
Be grateful: As a reporter I always felt grateful to have a source trust and talk with me when I was working on a story. The topic may have been a feature story on cocktail bars or a hard-hitting exploration of the state of education - that feeling never faltered. It has led to some truly wonderful professionals and personal contacts, yes, and it kept me grounded too. We don't owe each other time and attention - so when it's given freely there is cause to be grateful.
Never stop learning: I entered the media industry because it afforded me an opportunity to learn about something new each day. Whether a journalist working a beat or a PR or social media professional helping others craft their own story, listening and learning are among the first steps to forging truly fulfilling professional relationships. Imagine Entertainment Co-Founder Brian Grazer adopted this sentiment early in his career and his interviews have led to the book A Curious Mind.
Networking doesn't always come naturally or feel easy for all professionals. Still, it doesn't have to be difficult. Start with the professionals you know, seek out those who can teach you something you don't know, and be grateful and willing to give back.
In every job I've held, I've met intelligent, helpful and inspiring people who have made my life and career richer, more interesting and much more successful. As a tribute, I'll be sharing weekly #thankyoucard messages to those friends, colleagues and newcomers who have inspired or made a difference in my life and work. Watch for them on #ProDetroit social networks like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. And please consider sharing yours there too.
How have you made networking work best for you or your business? Tell us your story.
Stephanie Angelyn Casola founded Prologue as a writer, social media and PR professional with more than two decades of experience in media. She's addicted to wi-fi and minimalist design, holds high expectations for coffee, craft beer and pizza, and grew up an avid fan of scary movies. Recently dubbed the "Queen Bee of hustle, media relations and coolness" when she's not working, she's probably ducking into a movie, rock show or museum (so she'll text you after). Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org