#AwordwithSoa: Power Networking- the new rules of networking

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#AwordwithSoa: Power Networking- the new rules of networking

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Over the weekend, I got the opportunity to volunteer and be a part of the annual Operation Hope — Hope Global Forum at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta, GA.

The mission of Operation HOPE, Inc. (HOPE) is silver rights empowerment, making free enterprise work for everyone.  We accomplish this through our work on the ground as the nonprofit private banker for the working poor, the underserved and struggling middle class.  We achieve our mission by being the best-in-class provider of financial literacy empowerment for youth, financial capability for communities, and ultimately, financial dignity for all. – See more at: http://www.operationhope.org/aboutus#sthash.wsKvIjKV.dpuf

Their annual event, Hope Global Forum, included dinner receptions at major fortune 100 companies and Grammy award winning artists; workshops discussing financial literacy; sessions about making a global impact and more. Oh! And did I mention that former President Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker? Oh? Okay.

HopeGlobalForumRegister_01

As I experienced this event, both as a spectator and a volunteer. I was in awe at the caliber of people at this event. You have presidents, CEOs, and chairpeople from Fortune 100, 500, and 1000 companies at this event happy and WILLING to take a brief moment to talk to you and share their information. You have the organizers happy to answer any pressing questions about logistics and organization.

Where else on the planet will you be able to get that kind of intimate connection with someone without having to tirelessly chase after them or their assistant?

As I sat there meeting people like Kat Cole – President of Cinnabon and COO of Focus Brands and Mayor Aja Brown of the city of Compton, and the Founder and Chairman of Operation Hope – John Hope Bryant, I noticed the importance of being intentional with your networking.

As I watched all these people contribute to all the moving parts, I noticed how important it is to be intentional in your networking as well as rethink WHERE you do your networking.

It’s not enough to go to an event with the intention of getting a business card. If you are going to spend your time trying to gain a relationship with a person, wouldn’t you want it be worth it? Too many times I’ve gone to networking events or gone to events in general with the sole intention of making contacts. Now when I go to events it’s for one of two reasons: to support the event organizer or to build a specific relationship.

Networking has taught us some very valuable things:

know your elevator pitch;

have business cards handy or a way to share/receive contact information;

be an extrovert even when you want to be introverted.

Those things are all really great pieces of advice no matter if you’re just networking or simply marketing yourself and your business, but they’re kind of unfulfilling. Granted, I’ve gone to TONS of networking events and have met some cool people I’m still in contact with, but I’ve learned over the course of several years that all it leaves you with is a stack of business cards and exhaustion.

Networking in the 21st century isn’t your mom and dad’s or even your aunty’s version of networking. As a proud member of the millennial generation, I realize I need more than meaningless conversation,  tired icebreaker games, and people who want to add me to their latest MLM scheme. No offense.

The people with whom I’ve networked with and kept great ties with, I’ve worked closely with in some form or fashion or we have great mutual colleagues.

It’s time we did something about your regular every day networking and re-write the rules of networking. Some of the best ways to power network are by volunteering, joining networking groups, being active in a non-profit organization (large or otherwise depending on your intention), and social media.

Best Places to Power Network

I volunteered for a number of reason I won’t name, but my biggest reason was to network and receive new insight on event logistics. I’ve known for a while that I cultivate the best relationships by working closely with people in general. Those are the times where you get intimate access to people AND show them what you’re made of.

So the word of the day isn’t networking, it’s POWER NETWORKING.

Networking with the INTENTION of gaining a valuable relationship, building a powerful contact, and identifying mutually beneficial opportunities to work together.

It doesn’t stop with just getting the business card, you actually have to put in work to make sure not only do they remember your name, but they look to you as someone worthy of their time.

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