“It’s who you know.”
This may be true. But in a lot of cases, it’s also “who knows you.”
So, how do we become known? How do we establish ourselves as members of an industry or a community?
Social media is one way. We join Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and a myriad of other social media networks, to create a presence on the web and become a known entity, a thought leader. And that’s fine. It works and it has its place.
But for all of its whizbang ability to connect us to people all the way around the world, the internet lacks one key element: human contact. There’s just no substitute for sitting across the table from someone, looking them in the eye, and having a real face-to-face conversation. If this weren’t true, online dating would stay just that. Online. Right? Why actually go out into the world to meet the computerized man-of-your-dreams if online were enough? Exactly. We need to see one another. Shake hands. Hug. Wink. Laugh together and share the same energy, the same air, the same experience.
And so, I’ve joined the local chamber of commerce. Not because I think it’s going to revolutionize my customer base and bring me tons of business. That would be nice. But, no. I joined the local chamber of commerce to guarantee that once a month I reach out into my local community, shake some hands, and break bread with other business people who care, too, about the place we’ve chosen to set up shop and call home.
I also joined a local business women’s group. They’ve even asked me to be on the board of their organization. I joined this group because I support their mission. They raise money for scholarships that help women return to school after they’ve had a break in their education. Supporting the goals and aspirations of other women is core to my personal mission, and I felt it was a perfect vehicle for me to send out into the world exactly what I’d like to see mirrored back. So, yes, I accepted the board position with great glee.
I maintain my connection to business relationships through national organizations, too. From time to time I venture down to Seattle to visit with the folks at the Puget Sound Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. Their members have similar professional interests and they bring in world-class speakers. I’m also about to re-up my membership in TOCA, the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association, a group of writers and editors who tell the stories of the golf industry — something I spend a lot of my time on these days. The networking lasts all year long, and I always learn something new at the annual conference.
Why have I joined all of these groups? Because being affiliated with people who are doing good work, whether in industry or in the community, makes me a better, more well-rounded person. And thereby, it makes me a better business person.
I can assure you that every meeting has one shining nugget that I can take home with me, polish off and use to further good. Whether it’s a tip, a bit of news, some technique I’d not considered, a technology that will make my job easier, or even something as basic as a giggle or a smile shared with a friend from across the room, it’s all valuable, and it is worth my time.
By association, I become a better version of me.
And so I challenge you to think about which groups or organizations might help you to grow your company or enrich your life. Will you take the time? Lunch once a month isn’t too much to ask for how much your participation will give you back in return. Is it?
Stacie Zinn Roberts is a nationally recognized, award-winning writer and marketing expert with more than 25 years of experience. She has won more than 40 national awards for her work including the United Nations Environmental Program for retail environmental marketing, as well as from organizations such at the Public Relations Society of America and the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. She’s written for industry publications such as Golf Course Management, Sports Turf, Golfdom and PR Daily. She spent eight years as the president and director of marketing for Environmental Turf, where she developed the branding for SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum, the grass that eventually became the greens grass for the Rio Olympic Golf Course. Stacie served for six years on the Board of Directors of the Florida Turfgrass Association as Chair of the Research & Scholarship Committee where she worked closely with the scientists from the University of Florida’s turfgrass breeding program. Stacie founded What’s Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations in 2012.