The Power of Networking
In case you missed it, on Monday I announced the virtual launch of my new company, The Financial Gym. “The Gym” as I like to call it has been a dream of mine for three years now and for the past two years, I have been working on the model and figuring out the kinks to make sure that it would work.
At the beginning of this year, I committed to seeking venture capital money to achieve my dream of financial planning storefronts for the masses; and the first step that I took to find venture capital money was to reach out to my network.
After 15 years of working in financial services as well as my own company, it’s amazing to me the network that I have built. I’m fortunate that I’m a people person and most of the people I have interacted with over the years, I truly enjoy, so keeping up with them has never been a burden for me. The only challenge is finding the time to stay in touch, but thankfully social media, email and various events have made network maintenance possible.
For years, I never thought much about networking; I simply thought about staying connected to people that I loved. Over time, though, I realized that those connection points are the key to networking and it’s important to not only stay close to people because we like them, but we never know how and when they may play a different role in our lives.
The Beginning of a Networking Connection
From the moment I first spoke to a mentor of mine nine years ago, we had an instant connection. At that point, my career was just starting to take off, and he counseled me on how to take it to the next level. I ended up leaving the firm where we both worked; however, I always checked in with him every few months.
I checked in with him because I liked talking to him, but mostly because he gave me great advice on how to handle different situations at my new company. Every time I had a big career decision to make, I reached out to this mentor to get his advice and guidance. A year ago, he retired from our former firm and spent some time traveling, but we agreed to meet up for lunch to reconnect because it had been a while since we spoke.
The Power of Connection
By the time we finally found the time to have lunch, I was in the process of raising investor money for my company and he was about to receive a payout from our former firm. I initially joked with him about investing in me, which I could do from knowing him for nine years, but he immediately turned the joke into something serious. He said that he loved what I was doing, he wanted to read more about it from my business plan, and if it made sense, he wanted to invest some money in my business.
I left that first lunch, got in my car and cried. Why did I cry? I was completely moved by the way that life seems to work itself out. Eight years ago, this mentor could have kept me from leaving the company we worked for, instead he set me on a path that eventually led me to discovering my passion and my dream. Eight years ago, I could have stopped talking to him altogether and allowed our paths to completely part. Instead, I maintained a connection with him over eight years never knowing that it would lead to that lunch.
I left the lunch not knowing if he would invest or not, but truly understanding and believing in the power of networking. If I didn’t have the history and relationship with this mentor, I never could have had the comfortable and passionate conversation that I did about my new company; and he never would have understood the road that I took to get there.
A Payoff Nine Years in the Making
Three months after that lunch, we met again for coffee where he informed me that he planned to invest in my company, and he asked me for the documents and payment details. Three weeks after the coffee, I received the signed partnership agreement with a certified check in the mail. On the outside of the envelope with the check in it were the words “Knock ‘em dead!”
Nine years ago when I first met this person, I never could have imagined the direction my life would take and just how important he would end up being in my overall life story. Over nine years, he has not only become a great friend and mentor to me, but he has truly given me the opportunity to pursue a dream of mine. I could never thank him enough for what he has given to me, and we never would have gotten here if I didn’t take the time and network with him.