If someone had told little, meek, 22-year-old Aimee that she would be the head of a large networking organization in Louisville by the time she was 28, she would have laughed and laughed and laughed at you, insisting that you got her confused with a different A-I-M-E-E in town. Maybe one that was more outgoing, more successful, more stylish. She would shake her head and most likely tell you that you were crazy – she could barely talk herself into coming to the events, much less running the whole shebang. And to be good at networking, you had to be all of those things: outgoing, successful, stylish – plus some.
But here we are in 2018, and little, meek Aimee was horribly wrong. In 2018, networking encapsulates so much more to me than it did when I had such a narrow view of the word’s true scope. It means less stale meet-and-greets and more relationship building. It means utilizing my contacts intentionally, and is about structuring a team of advocates who believe in you and what you stand for.
It was only when I realized that networking was more than an awkward interaction with a few strangers throughout the duration of a never-ending cocktail reception, that I truly began to grow my relationships, build my brand, and work towards strategically getting to know how others function.
And after working so hard to create a strong network, I now realize that I have constructed something so much more than just a group of people willing to recommend me for a job – I have built a system of support. Creating meaningful relationships is the key to any of my networking endeavors because I want people around me who genuinely trust in who I am and what I do. I want to put people in place that believe in me – even when I don’t believe in myself.
Building a team of advocates who can cheer me on when I need it, give me the cold hard truth when need be, and help me become the professional I want to be has been of the utmost importance when I step into most networking events these days.
Be it joining a board of directors in the community, volunteering for a project, attending a happy hour, or going out to lunch with people in the office, taking the opportunity to seek out those who you want on your support team is vital for success, both in the workplace and in your personal life. Taking the time to craft a strong personal advisory council will come in handy – sometimes when you least expect it. And let me tell you, there’s no better feeling in the world than knowing that you’ve got a team of supportive individuals who have got your back no matter what.