Hurricane Irma and the Importance of Networking

Hurricanes are a fantastic reminder of the importance of networking and having a strong network in your business and personal life. Back in 2004, my Gratitude Cookie business was about 18 months old when Florida was assaulted by four hurricanes in six weeks. Frances and Jeanne directly affected Palm Beach County, where I was living at the time. We were without power for 10 days after each storm. And even once power was restored, it was not immediately business as usual.

The health department didn’t take kindly to businesses using their home kitchens, so I was subleasing space in a commercial kitchen. A connection made at a Chamber of Commerce networking event had yielded this perfect environment for baking.

But shortly after the first hurricane, I discovered that my commercial kitchen space sustained severe damage. Now I needed to find another place to bake. The holiday season – my busiest time – was quickly approaching. Near panic!

Networking to the Rescue

Calling on the contacts I’d made via networking throughout the year, through someone who knew someone, I found an even better baking facility!

This story is a perfect example of the importance of networking. You never know when you meet a person how you might be of service to them or they to you. Situations come up that you could never have anticipated. Even when you meet someone who doesn’t seem like a “good” connection for you right off the bat, don’t throw away their card. Add them to your CRM system with notes about your conversation and what they do.

It’s crazy how circumstances crop up and you find yourself reaching out to that person you never thought you’d have use for. Often it’s not even on your own behalf. Many times it’s to connect the person to someone else you met who needs the connection.

Connections of Connections

Last week I spoke at a business conference. The woman sitting next to me at lunch shared that she’s challenged with finding office space in a specific area of Baltimore for her new business. Knowing there are a bunch of people in my network who might have resources for her, I offered to reach out to them. Two days later, I’ve forwarded five recommendations to her, none of which she would likely have found on her own and all of which could be viable. She’s much closer to finding exactly the space she needs now.

A Better Reason to “Check In”

Don’t you find it annoying and meaningless when you get an email that says, “Hey, how’s it going? I’m just checking in…” There’s no real substance there and there isn’t a reason for you to respond.

Not only was I able to help this new contact, emailing those Baltimore connections gave me an opportunity to put myself in front of people I’ve not been in touch with recently. And do it in a way that’s not self-serving.

Having the ability to introduce contacts within your network to each other is powerful and gratifying. Positioning yourself as a valuable resource always pays off in the long run.

Hurricanes like Irma (thankfully) don’t come along every year. However, there are plenty of other occasions when you’ll find yourself unsure of where you’ll find a solution you desperately need. When you’ve successfully built a strong network, you’re able to call on it in those times of adversity.

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