There is a give and take to networking. Right before the holidays, I attended a 1-day conference on Digital Marketing. I was a little leery on taking the time away from “real work”, but it was local and seemed interesting, so I decided it was worth the time.
When I try to decide whether or not to attend these events, I usually focus on the topics, and if there are going to be interesting speakers presenting. Granted, I’m always aware that some sessions won’t cover exactly what I think they were going to address based on the description. However, in my opinion, if you get one new idea or a different approach to a problem from a speaker then that session was worth attending.
Surprisingly, the best thing I got from attending this conference was completely unexpected.
As it happens at a local event, there is a tendency to cross paths with old co-workers, and that’s what happened to me. This friend, let’s call him “Dave” had started a new job in a senior position and was doing his first year-long planning activities. He was having challenges as the team was new and the organizational structure wasn’t what he was used to.
Dave and I sat down and started to review some of his processes and challenges. I shared some of my ideas on what could be effective and by the end of the next session, which we both missed, we had come up with some ideas that he thought could help.
Now, at this point you might be thinking that Dave got the better part of the deal, but I’m not sure that’s the case. You see, I had been working exclusively on my own plans and challenges and was firmly wrapped up in my business. Hearing about where someone else was, and what they were dealing with, offered me a new perspective on things. In addition, it gave me the opportunity see where I stood with the way we were doing things versus how others in a similar, but non-competitive, business were handling challenges.
As I was driving home from the event I was reflecting on what the day had gained me. I figured out the following:
- I got some good Digital Marketing tips from the session and met some new people
- I found out that some of the techniques that I was using were new to others and were valuable
- I had reconnected with an ex-colleague and strengthened my network
- I had built some good business karma and now have a chip to cash in if I need a favor
- I have better understanding of how what I’m doing compares to others
When we’re busy and focused on our work, it’s all too easy to get stuck in our own ivory tower and ignore what’s going on in the outside world. Connecting with other professionals that are dealing with similar issues can lead to surprising results. Who knows, you might be leading the pack and not know it, or if you’re more like Dave, be able to pick up some advice from an unexpected source to help you overcome challenges. It’s worth it to make time to network.