As CEO of The Coaching Academy and Director of Mentoring at Start-up Loans, I can spend a lot of time in and out of meetings and at events, doing so allows me to network with a range of individuals and I find these experiences to be one of the most valuable uses of my time.
Here is my challenge, to you and myself: lets not become a nation of zombie offices. Lets unplug our headphones, put down our phones, resist the urge to email and make sure we all take the time to speak to one another, share ideas and collaborate where we can everyday. Not only will this create much healthier and more vibrant offices, but we will be more productive too.
It's not what you know, but who you know, as the saying goes. While I lean towards a healthy combination of the two - determination and a healthy love of hard work being crucial for growing both your personal and business 'brands' - there's no doubt that getting yourself out there is important.
Talking to a friend at a networking event the other day, I asked what drove her to pay the hefty fee required to join the business group she belongs to. Referrals? Connections? Adding a few business cards to an already teetering pile? None of these.
Or how I almost blew my chances in 7 'faux pas'. Fresh from university, and still fresh from a different culture, the idea
This is the age of collaboration and reciprocity. Share what you know with others: send a link to an article you have read, order a book and put it in the mail, help someone who looks like they are having an attack of shyness across the corner of a cocktail party room. Above all, be interested in ideas and others, not just yourself.
When someone feels comfortable with you and is confident that you will provide them with a good service, they are more likely to recommend you to their clients and contacts. That has always been the way the world works and I can see no reason why that will ever change.
How much time do you spend on managing your 'personal brand'? What others think and say about you is vital to anyone's success in business or in their career. It's not simply about whether people speak positively about you, or otherwise; it's the context in which they speak about you and your strengths.
You don't have to do it alone. Whatever you want to achieve, whether in developing your own business or progressing your career, you will get much closer to achieving your true potential if you are open to support from your network.
But as an entrepreneur I've decided to take this to another level with 13 classes of...business networker. Don't get me wrong - I've met some wonderful people and excellent practitioners in my time, but some of these may ring true with you.