Illustrated image for article Networking - business or virtual human support?!

Networking - business or virtual human support?

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In today's fast-paced and connected world, networking has become an integral part of both personal and professional life. Whether you are a student, job seeker, entrepreneur, or seasoned professional, networking and making connections plays a vital role in shaping your success and opening doors to new opportunities. In this article, we'll explore what networking is and why it's so important to us.


Some of you may have no idea what's behind the term, but from my perspective, it's primarily a very enjoyable meeting of like-minded people who are looking for support in business and in their personal lives. They are very popular meetings that have proliferated mostly during the COVID era when our personal contacts were limited or completely muted. People met virtually in the comfort of their own homes so they didn't feel lonely, helped each other through difficult situations, and most importantly were able to give each other help with their businesses that were in their infancy.


Networking refers to establishing and maintaining relationships with individuals, both in person and online, to exchange information, ideas, and support. It includes contacts who can provide advice, guidance, and opportunities in your personal and professional journey. Networking can occur at social events, conferences, online platforms, or to an end even in your workplace. 

And that was the impetus that nudged me to change things up or start actively seeking out mainly international contacts, to build long-distance relationships and maybe get referrals for future clients or interesting projects. Well, I won't get ahead of myself... First things first.


How did I get into this?


I honestly had no idea that such a thing even existed until my husband, who functions as a walking Google, sent me a link to online events around the world. I decided to scour each and every one of these links and see what it was all about. I was pleasantly surprised at the kinds of networking events that actually take place - some are for women only, some are with men, different ages, different careers and businesses, and open topics.


For me, it was unimaginable at first - to be visible on camera for an hour, speaking fluent English, or trying to raise the profile of my business and make contacts that would help us push our business and get attention from the public or specific clients internationally. I, as an extrovert who runs my mouth on a daily basis, suddenly felt like I was unable to spit out a slick sentence that sounded somewhat intellectual and convincing.


All I could think of was to tell everyone in the miniature windows on the screen where I was from and what my name was, which of course they already knew at the beginning when they registered for the meeting, under my face on the screen. I had to get my bearings quickly, so I smiled and tried to hide my doubts and nervousness that I could do this the first time. 


Each time the online event is organized or built differently to fit all the speaker content into a minimum of 1 hour with a lecture, a shared conversation, and a presentation by the individual participants. From their side, it's quite admirable how they can create an instantly relaxed atmosphere the first minutes you enter the room. In some places there is dance music playing in the background, in others, they will address you straight away greet you with a smile, and put you at ease so you don't change your mind straight away. Most of the time, the nervousness goes away immediately.


These conference calls are mostly held all over the U.S. Each amazing soul is from a different corner of the United States, but occasionally someone from India or England will show up. It's a very useful opportunity to meet a lot of people around the world with the same mindset and experience in business. 


I signed up for my first networking event at the beginning of the holiday season and gradually researched the various topics to be discussed or discussed in detail for an hour with a special guest speaker. Within the first week, I was already starting to get into it and sign up for all kinds of possible business meetings, because it got my blood pumping and at the same time gave me back my faith and strength to push myself. The wild ride of meeting and sharing connections with so many people began that I got a special notebook to take notes on each person and write down the experiences of women in the business world.

The interesting thing is that women from really incredible industries can come together here, and each one is really unique in some way and, most importantly, always smiling. You can meet freelance accountants, lots of coaches who deal with mental health and strategies for a successful business, and women selling their home improvement products or handmade original jewelry.


I, on the other hand, felt like I was pretty much out of the loop because I'm rooted in the IT industry and bringing clients' visions to life, so we focus on online results. However, for others in the business, there are no distinctions and no one is mainly judging or evaluating you, they are only there with one goal - to help you, support you, and use your services themselves or recommend you to other contacts.


During my first conference call, I listened intently to each person who shared their story. I had put together a narrative myself beforehand about what my business is and what services I offer to appear credible and prepared. Although it was a little uncomfortable for me at first and I wasn't used to it, I was very surprised by the openness, understanding, and warmth of the entire group.


As it is nice to have a place to present and promote yourself among influential people, but first and foremost it is important to gain their trust and sympathy. The whole conversation was of course also about our free time, where we had the opportunity to discuss our activities like our love for books, sports, family and other hobbies, so that also the atmosphere relaxed a bit and the nervousness disappeared.

I felt uplifted and respected. I felt like I had found something I perhaps didn't have around me yet - a virtual family and friends on the same wavelength. Which is a paradox, don't you think?


Women of different ages, statuses, mentalities, or experiences - all made up this wonderful moment and occasion when our faiths became one.

During these networking calls, you get to discuss very interesting topics about business and personal development, which are of course related. 


The main mentor, who always has a very rich and specific topic presentation ready, guides us through the task, which is then concluded with questions. 

Even though the questions are mostly simple, we find out in the finale that one is puzzled, thinking, and actually can't think of a crafty answer to make sense, so it's funny how an everyday and simple question can make you doubt or make you think about your life, which then makes you change something or act differently based on the inspiring answers of others.


Anyway - no answer is wrong! Everything counts and most of the time they are all dying to know something about you and your feelings, experiences, or blocks in life.


The constant attention of the whole group keeps you active in communication, there is even a chat room where you can directly write and arrange a follow-up meeting just between 4 eyes with a specific person when you hit it off, thus establishing long-term friendships or contacts needed for the future, whether working relationships or virtual and friendly ones for now.

The positivity, humility, and warmth of all the women are very contagious, and during the whole meeting, you tend to keep smiling and enjoying the people you meet and what the meeting will give you because every minute can help you change anything.


Regular online meetings are like a drug sometimes. For me, it's a daily need to hear encouragement, to give courage and determination to keep doing what I'm doing so that we can achieve our successes and make our dreams come true, which is a long-distance run.


And why is Networking important to grow?

1. Creating opportunities

Networking is often the gateway to new opportunities. Whether you're looking for a job, seeking potential clients or customers for your business, or looking for collaborators on a project, networking can be just the valuable resource you need. Many opportunities are not publicly advertised and often come through referrals.

2. Sharing knowledge

Networking allows you to tap into the collective knowledge and experience of others. You can learn from their successes and failures, learn about industry trends, and stay informed about the latest developments in your field. This knowledge sharing can help you make the right decisions and avoid costly mistakes, for example.

3. Career progression

Building a strong professional network is essential for career development. It can lead to mentoring opportunities, job referrals, and promotions. A network of colleagues and mentors can provide guidance and encouragement as you navigate your career path.

4. Personal growth

Networking is not limited to professional contacts but extends into personal relationships as well. Meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures can broaden your horizons, increase your cultural competence, and improve your interpersonal skills. These personal growth experiences can have a profound impact on your life.

5. Troubleshooting

When you encounter problems or obstacles, your networking can serve as a valuable resource for problem-solving. By reaching out to your contacts, you can get different perspectives and gain expertise to help you overcome obstacles more effectively.

6. Building trust

Networking can definitely boost your confidence and communication skills. The more you interact with others, the better you will be at articulating your ideas, making new connections, and building rapport. These skills are also essential for various aspects of life.

7. Entrepreneurial success

For entrepreneurs and small business owners, networking is essential for growth. It can help secure funding, find partners or investors, and attract customers. Many successful businesses owe their beginnings to well-established networking.


Have these reasons convinced you to move on and start working on your contacts around the world?


Get started today - you never know where a new contact will take you!

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Picture of the author: LinnyKayCee!



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