When I first set out in business on my own, I tried attending a few networking events. While it was awkward at first, I picked up a lot of business cards, got a lot of phone calls, and met a lot of people for coffee and quickly learned the small business community was welcoming and fun.
I was able to get some business from my efforts, but as I reflect on things a couple of years later, I realize that the biggest thing I gained was a circle of amazing new friends. The friendships I’ve made through networking are unique. I deeply love all of my friends, but there is a special connection to my tribe of women business owners that is hard to put into words: they are the people that I haven’t known very long but feel closer to than people I’ve known for years. We share ideas with each other, give each other honest feedback and advice, and lift each other up in our worst moments of discouragement. I am blessed to have so many special people in my life, but I’m taking this opportunity to give a shout out to four that I cherish.
I couldn’t write a blog about networking and friendship without mentioning Katrice. She runs a networking group called Network Notions and she lives up to her claim that Networking is her Superpower.
I met Katrice at a Network Notions event and we hit it off instantly and started collaborating and sharing ideas. I love her warmth and patience and her unique ability to lift up any entrepreneur she meets. She has become a close friend and she can often put my thoughts into words when I haven’t even told her what I’m thinking. She makes me laugh and offers reassurance in the dark times. And she is fearless in business.
I met Ebonie at a brainstorming workshop that Katrice and I organized and I liked her instantly. She is one of those people who can add something extra to every discussion and she has an amazing perspective and ability to see past what people are saying and understand it on a deeper level. One of the most eloquent speakers I’ve met, her kind heart often brings a little mist to my eyes. I’ve turned to Ebonie when I’m having writer’s block and she can instantly put what I’m trying to express into a well written piece. All you have to do is catch one glimpse of her kids looking at her to see the powerful love that this woman projects.
Sandra and I met a few times briefly before we had a chance to really talk. We ended up working an event next to each other and quickly shared some laughs and ideas. There was a connection there and by the end of the night I felt as if I was out with someone I had known for years.
Sandra can make anything beautiful. She is gifted in helping women feel comfortable with their makeup, but she also gives an amazing, warm, meaningful hug and she is one of the most patient and understanding people I know. I love collaborating with Sandra because she is direct and honest but always kind and sensitive to other peoples feelings. She will tell you when she doesn’t agree, but she is never critical and I can honestly say, I learn something from her whenever we collaborate on a project or event. And of all my friends, she is the only one who said “yes” when I posted a request for people to join me for a 5 am Paczki run on Fat Tuesday. Now that’s friendship!
Christine and I sat at the same table at a very boring luncheon. We immediately got to talking and connected. Christine owns a learning center called College Colleagues and she is one of those people who is working her calling. We started serving on the Business Advisory Board at The Parma Chamber of Commerce together and I quickly became a customer as she worked with my niece to share her love of learning. Christine is a survivor and her amazing enthusiasm and zest for life are infectious, so much so that I always look forward to seeing her. Whether it’s a business meeting or a fun road trip to Lilydale, Christine adds something special.
There are so many more people that I’ve met through the networking community and so many networking friendships that deserve a special shout out. I’d be here writing for days if I covered them all so I’m saving some for another blog post. But I can tell you this: I am a better person for every friend I have and if I never sold another item, booked another workshop, or made another dollar, I would always be grateful for the friendships I’ve made through networking.