Networking is the exchange of information, ideas and resources among people. You don’t have to be the expert in everything if you can engage others who are.
When you play to your strengths, hone those talents and build a network of individuals who are experts in what they do, you create a powerful, knowledgeable hub. You become a go-to because you can help others.
This is one of the ways that The Fedeli Group has grown to be successful, serving as a trusted resource for clients by using our resources to help them manage risk, protect assets and maximize human resources. And by engaging and building a network, I have become a richer person with rewarding relationships. I don’t have all the answers, but I can connect the dots for others to guide them to solutions.
I’ve been asked, “How do you build such a large network? What is the secret to networking? You seem to have lots of connections — how do you get to know all these people?”
There’s no secret. There are no shortcuts to networking, either. Building a network takes time. You meet people in different areas of business, in politics and in the community. You get to know them. Gradually, you share information and grow trust in each other.
You share ideas, information and resources, you receive and then you share more. You ask how you can help them, and you introduce them to others who may benefit from their interests. You may be very different in your views, your profession or your station in life, but you share common values and an appreciation for each other.
When I first started in business, I had virtually no network. I had mentors from John Carroll University I turned to for advice. I also had my family. That’s a different kind of network that is perhaps even more valuable than the network you build in business. Family is your support network.
I had a growing client base as I worked tirelessly to build our business. That’s how networking began for me — by getting to know my clients, understanding their pains, listening to their stories and lessons learned, and then sharing those bits of knowledge with others I met who I thought could benefit from what I learned. With a client roster of business owners who lived and breathed their industries, I gained information and resources from them and passed it on.
Throughout the years, I built a robust network. I focus on meeting the needs of others — clients, business associates, friends, family and peers in the community. I can be a better resource for all these people by engaging them with others. I discovered how powerful the law of reciprocity is; it’s only in giving that you ultimately receive.
So, how do you network? You build relationships. At the same time, you do some reflection and ask yourself, “Who am I as a parent, a friend, a businessperson, an investor, a community member?”
Consider every aspect of your life and determine your strengths. What value do you bring? Why do people rely on you? You begin to make intersections — for example, individuals in the community may have a skill that a business associate could use. We don’t live our lives in silos. Truly valuable networking can be fluid, crossing all the boundaries between life and business. ●
Umberto P. Fedeli is CEO of The Fedeli Group