Photos by Mia F. Antonio
It has probably happened to most of us at some time or other—we are standing at the door of a “networking event” filled with animated people deep in conversation and suddenly nothing seems more appealing than heading as quickly as possible in the other direction. Of course, networking is so much more than those awkward-feeling introductions that are needed at times. On November 29, Ann Brennan shared her experience and suggestions on how to build a network of valuable partners who will help you achieve your goals at any point in your career. Ann is founder and Managing Partner of Brennan Executive Benefits, an insurance brokerage firm. She spoke to us from her own experience in building and maintaining trusted relations with business clients and strategic partners across multiple industries.
Building these relationships takes time, planning, preparation, and organization. However, Ann’s strategies can be implemented little by little to help build a strong professional network in a purposeful way. Ann has kindly given us permission to link her presentation slides, “Cultivating Contacts and Influential Professional Relationships” to our website. You may be pleasantly surprised to see that you have already implemented some of her suggestions—if not, choose a starting point for yourself! You will help your own professional growth and in turn become a valuable resource for connecting many people who can benefit each other.
After Ann's talk I left encouraged and empowered to pursue relationships with individuals of different professional backgrounds as a way of building up my own skill set and building a positive community of professionals pursuing excellence. As someone who works remotely with a national team, I was encouraged Thursday night by experiencing the local community that is being built up through the Murray Hill Institute. A reminder that I am not alone in wanting to pursue authentic and strategic relationships that are mutually beneficial and built on respect.
—Michaela Brooks, Development Officer, St. Paul’s Outreach
The advice that helped me the most is to keep a list of influential people and having meetings with them to build a relationship. It's important to note how helpful these people are to your industry, and if they aren't then to weed them out and continue to the build up a network. It's important to have meetings by phone, and/or in person. The conversations should be blunt and direct with why you are meeting with this particular person.
I believe that a challenge would be to know who is an influential person in a list of many contacts one has? How to start a direct conversation with that influential person without being too pushy or rude? As well as not having an impostor syndrome of encountering that influential person. I think that as women we tend to over-think and over-analyze when encountering people as well as being self-judgmental.
—Jacqueline Casquero, Educator specializing in urban children with disabilities and MHI mentee