July 11, 2012
Anyone in business knows the importance of networking. But in the press of work, it can be tough to find time for it. I’m a born schmoozer, and I love chatting at cocktail parties and professional events. Even at that, though, I don’t spend as much time on it as I should or would like to.
That’s why I’ve come to value the one networking event that I attend religiously. About five years ago, a friend of mine invited a handful of sales and marketing people to get together for coffee. It’s all guys, around age 50, and so at first we made jokes about “men of a certain age.” But five years later, the original group is still getting together every month, and it’s been a great thing for me, personally and professionally.
Some members have come and gone, but the core group includes a national broadcast sales rep; a video producer; a media planner for a major ad agency; and a national sales manager for a Web-based business. We usually discuss the advertising and media business — not because we force ourselves to, but because we all work in it and we’re naturally curious about it.
If the purpose of networking is simply to land new business, then this group is a waste of time. I can’t point to a lead I’ve gotten that has resulted in a new Fast Horse client. But I’ve learned a lot about the media business that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. My background is in print, but I now know a lot more about radio, TV and the Web than I would have otherwise. I’ve gotten insight into the perspective of people who actually make the sales and bring in the money: how they view the overall media business and the Twin Cities market, where they see new media possibilities developing, what their clients value and talk about. I’ve picked up on industry gossip, and I’ve used some of our discussions as the launching point for the weekly marketing column I write for MinnPost.com.
And, of course, there are the personal rewards that come with spending time consistently with a group of people, especially those that have something in common with you professionally. We share many of the same challenges and frustrations; we experience similar moments of exhilaration.
Is there a particular networking event or group that’s been great for you?