This post is incredibly delayed for several reasons. One, I wanted to really build off the results of the networking I had done to be able to write about it and two, I have been sick for about two weeks now. But the entire post as a whole, because of the delay, really came together as a result.
Over the course of the last year, I have grown an enormous amount as a woman and as a person overall. With that being said, I’ve learned to love myself and really learn to do a lot of things out of the norm for me, in my personal life.
However, on a professional level, I still had that fear of walking into a room, unknown to anyone, and being expected to make connections. How does one do that so fearlessly and effortlessly? It’s never been my forte’ I tell you. If there is one thing within property management that gives me the cold chills, it is networking and marketing to an individual or group of people I do not know.
Want me to do a marketing plan? Done. Want me to come up with some creative marketing strategies and ideas? Done. Want me to present them in front of a group of my peers? Done. Want me to walk into a Chamber of Commerce event, not knowing a soul and network?? OMG…..noooooooooooooooooooooo……..(I’ll save you any longer on that ellipsis, but you get the idea).
But being new to this market in Alabama and being a part of an upcoming property where no one on the staff but myself has started, guess what? I had to force myself to do it. Did anyone from corporate force it on me? No, they didn’t even know about it. Was it a requirement of becoming a part of the community? No, they didn’t care whether I showed up or not. Was it something I had to force myself to do in order to provide myself self-improvement and growth? ABSOLUTELY! (And I told myself, that’s what this past year had been all about, so let’s continue to grow, even in my professional life!)
So I showed up to the Chamber of Commerce at the scheduled time. Nervous and about to puke on myself. I’m about to walk into an event where I know no one and be expected to introduce myself and tell these people what our community is going to do for them and their business. Fantastic (in the most sarcastic tone you can imagine).
The extraordinary happened. I was greeted with smiles and a handful of “How are you’s?” I was invited to eat their food. In a funny turn of even, one of my newly hired leasing consultants (who had not started as of yet) was there with her current employer, a carpet cleaning business. Small world, which suddenly turned smaller when I realized the owner of her current company was also someone I had known from my past high school days….we caught up for a few minutes.
Then with the confidence built up from the initial encounters, I went from booth to booth and introduced myself. Gained contacts, gained valuable community information, grew my business card collection and ultimately empowered myself. You’ll never believe what occurred in the days following…..
I took my collection of business cards and emailed each one. Thanking them for taking the time to speak with me, acknowledged their business and also took the time to let them know that if there was anything we could collaborate on, to please, let me know and keep in touch. I received several responses back and had meetings set up for the following week.
The first meeting I had was with a representative for The Noah Foundation and New Hope Academy. I truly did not think anything major of this meeting in a business sense, other than really reaching out to a truly amazing organization that is doing great things in our community by helping children with learning disabilities. I think I was more in it to really achieve that self-gratification of taking part in the volunteer aspect of the opportunity. (Look, it’s my blog, I may as well be honest, right?)
Well, wouldn’t you know, that meeting turned into an opportunity to get to know someone that shared my same ideas on the power of networking (I said it wasn’t my forte’, not that I didn’t believe in the power of it), shared my mentality on business ideas and definitely a shared passion & enthusiasm for what we each do for a living, despite being extremely different avenues of business. This individual also has plans to set up a networking group for “sponsored” businesses.
Over the course of that same week, I had several other meetings as a result of my “Thank You” email that I had sent out and had the opportunity to develop relationships with other business owners/sales consultants/advertisers in the area. It was an amazing feeling to really have the gratification of empowering myself to do something that I assure you, under no circumstances, wanted to do.
Despite my fear, I stepped out of my comfort zone, forced myself to do something I did not want to do and gave myself an opportunity to do it. That’s a great feeling at the end of the day. (And in an ironic turn of events, that Chamber of Commerce event occurred before I realized that our company does not even allow us to become members of the Chamber.)
So this post is two fold I suppose……
The first fold: Networking really is absolutely vital to running your property. Because you are not just sitting behind a desk with a fiduciary responsibility, you are building a community within a community. Become a part of it. Don’t just sit behind your desk.
The second fold: Is there something you’re scared of? I encourage you to take the reins of your fear and do it. You’ll feel so much better afterwards. And who knows what the result will be? (But you know what? Even if it’s as simple as feeling empowered and feeling like you conquered some mountain, that’s more than enough of a result).