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Healthy Networking Habits

This lost science needs to become part of a regular routine

Mary Kay Scully headshot
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Mary Kay Scully
Networking

Did you begin your day with a healthy breakfast or an exercise routine? Maybe even both? My guess is there’s an even split between those with a healthy routine and those that roll out of bed scrambling for the coffee — and run out the door at 8:15 a.m., hoping they’ll magically make it to work by 8 a.m.

Even still, some of you may be used to starting your day with a healthy routine, but it has fallen by the wayside for one reason or another. Can you think of any areas of your professional life that feel that way?

I think that for many people networking is that lost routine. Herminia Ibarra, a professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School, said, “Networking is a lot like nutrition and fitness: we know what to do, the hard part is making it a top priority.”

The bottom line is many people are not networking like they once did, especially not in person. Even in 2022, as more people began to gather in person, virtual events remain popular. A 2021 global survey by Kaltura found that at least 48% of organizations planned to host more virtual events in 2022.

While remote work and events provide us with great flexibility, we may have lost an important element of relationship building. Let’s talk about networking, how it’s changed and why you should get back out there and start meeting people again.

What is Networking?

Investopedia defines networking as “ … the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting.” While that is networking at the surface, it is actually so much more. Especially in our industry, networking is a critical source of business — and good business is something everyone is after right now.

How Has Networking Changed?

While you used to be able to meet people at conferences, trainings, or local business events, many of us have lost that element. With many events being virtual even now, or at least having a virtual option, it’s so easy to opt for the choice to stay home, be comfortable and multitask — but that’s the very issue. It’s hard to network virtually — you don’t just run into people online and you can’t strike up a conversation as casually. It’s also harder to focus on networking if you’re at home and have other distractions pulling your attention away from making connections.

What Do We Do?

No matter your forum for networking, you must be intentional. Be it remote or in-person, you need to schedule networking time into your day, week, or month.

Be deliberate and purposeful in your communication. This not only goes for business partners, but customers, too — you never know who you may be talking to. While it’s critical to build relationships with realtors and builders, think outside the box too. Consider large employers, trade associations, the local Rotary club, neighborhood watch groups, or even the new moms club. Connect with a broad array of people and you’ll be surprised at how things line up.

Whoever the person is that you’ve connected with, make a conscious effort to stay in touch and provide value in some way — your business will thank you for it. They won’t all become customers or partners right away, so be patient and persistent.

The simple act of being present and intentional in your communication can pay off both in the short term and for years to come.

It’s time to get back out there. Start putting some thought and effort into how you’re connecting with people and building relationships with them. This may push us out of our comfort zone, but what we’ll gain is far more valuable than the comfort we must risk.

Just like you have to make a conscious effort to keep your body healthy, you must be intentional about keeping your business healthy, too. It takes effort, but in the long run, you’ll always be glad you took that extra step.

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine November 2022 issue.
Mary Kay Scully headshot
Mary Kay Scully

Mary Kay Scully is the Director of Customer Education at Enact, leading the development of the company’s customer education curriculum. The statements in this article are solely her opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of Enact or its management. 

Published on
Oct 28, 2022
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