The Power of Networking

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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.

Network Building

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!”

My first check

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.

What are some good networking tips? What opportunities have you had thanks to your network? How do you stay connected to your network?
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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Oh man your network is SO important. I find that 99.9% of my freelancing jobs come from referrals, so if you don’t have a strong network it’s really hard to find work. That’s so awesome your mentor invested in your business and even cooler what he wrote! I’m so happy for you and can’t wait to see the first gym break ground! And maybe I’ll have enough points on some airline so I can be there in person. 🙂

  2. I love this! You never know where a connection can lead. For networking it’s important to have a genuine interest in others and be helpful. Stay in touch. Be yourself. Be open to what you want/need. People can often be happy to help.

  3. I don’t think you can over emphasize the importance of networking. It makes a huge difference for me both personally and professionally. Plus, it’s a lot of fun to connect with like-minded people. I had to laugh because I also believe that life (or God) sends us signs and it’s up to us to answer the call. I’m so glad you did!

  4. That’s such a great story! I can’t disagree with the powers of networking. I got a reccomendation for my first job through a friends parent who I’d help house-sit. Then I switched to my current position because of a co-worker who had mad the leap a few years earlier. She ended up quitting recently to be a SAHM, and man am I jealous. Maybe I’ll follow her again in a few years and be a SAHD!

    I hope you include this company in future updates in this site. It’s so neat to see a startup starting, and I can’t wait for future progress updates!

  5. Congrats Shannon! Been out of the loop the last week, so need to catch on Monday’s post. Your network is a vital tool these days. I try and stay in touch with e-mails or social media as well. It’s a quick and easy way to stay in contact. I find the a network can be both a give and take type relationship. I have often helped others in my network and now I’m leveraging them for help during my job search.

  6. One thing I love about networking is you never know where it will take you. Sometimes years after I networked with someone the connection will come out of nowhere and open up some opportunity that I didn’t think was possible. So happy for your positive experience with networking!

  7. I think this is a great story of maintaining your network. I try to make a point to keep up with people that I truly enjoy, and I’m amazed by how often I get to meet up with former colleagues and friends who are passing through my town on business trips. I often get my best ideas, both business related and personal from conversations that happen when I invite people to meet up for coffee or to have dinner at my place. It’s nice that I don’t live too far from the airport, so these types of meet ups are possible.

  8. I have trouble with the whole concept of networking – trouble that I believe I am overcoming. I really don’t like false connections with people, and I think there can be a fine line between networking and phoniness. Clearly it is possible to network with authenticity. That’s the paradigm shift that I have to grasp in my concept of networking. What a great, great story about your mentor and friend – and vital part of your network.

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