Following is a guest post by Doris Gibbons, owner of Gibbons Insurance Agency of American Family. Greater Harrison Chamber members are invited to share their expertise. Contact the Chamber to learn more.

Networking is often viewed as a necessary task for professional growth, but for those who love people like I do, it’s more than just a chore—it’s an exhilarating opportunity! Whether you’re a seasoned networker or just dipping your toes into the sea of professional connections, here are eight tips to not only make networking productive, but also thoroughly enjoyable.

1.            Authenticity is Key

One of the most crucial aspects of networking is authenticity. People can tell when you’re not being genuine, so always strive to be yourself. Embrace your quirks, share your passions, and listen actively. Authentic connections are not only more meaningful but also more likely to lead to fruitful collaborations and friendships.

Embrace your quirks, share your passions, and listen actively.

Doris Gibbons

2.            Focus on Building Relationships

Networking isn’t just about collecting business cards or LinkedIn connections—it’s about fostering genuine relationships. Take the time to get to know the people you meet on a personal level. Ask about their interests, career goals, and challenges they’re facing. Show genuine interest and offer support wherever you can.

3.            Be a Connector

Networking isn’t just about what others can do for you—it’s also about what you can do for others. Actively look for ways to connect people within your network who could benefit from knowing each other. Whether it’s introducing two professionals with complementary skills or recommending a talented individual for a job opportunity, being a connector strengthens your relationships and builds goodwill.

4.            Attend Events with Purpose

I look for mortgage loan officers and other Center of Influence “COI”s for my particular industry. Instead of attending every single networking event under the sun, be selective and choose events that align with your interests and goals. Whether it’s industry conferences, workshops, or local meetups, attending events where you’re genuinely interested in the subject matter makes networking feel less like work and more like a rewarding experience. I especially like the ones that have a philanthropic piece to be involved in. But I do evaluate every two years minimum to see if this particular group is one that I want to continue membership with, things can change outside of your control, and don’t be afraid to move on as your time is so very valuable. This has been a very important piece for my 30 plus years as a professional.

Upcoming Networking Opportunities

5.            Follow Up and Follow Through

The real magic of networking happens after the initial encounter. Always follow up with the people you connected with, whether it’s through a personalized email, a LinkedIn message, or a handwritten note. Express gratitude for the connection and reiterate your interest in staying in touch. And don’t forget to follow through on any promises or commitments you’ve made during your conversation!

6.            Embrace Digital Networking

In today’s digital age, networking extends beyond face-to-face interactions. Utilize online platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and industry forums to connect with professionals in your field, join relevant groups, and participate in discussions. Digital networking allows you to expand your reach and maintain connections with people regardless of geographical barriers.

7.            Give Before You Receive Whenever Possible

Generosity goes a long way in networking. Offer your time, expertise, or resources to help others without expecting anything in return. Whether it’s sharing valuable insights, making introductions, or offering your assistance on a project, being generous fosters goodwill and strengthens your relationships within your network.

8.            Practice Active Listening

Effective networking isn’t just about talking—it’s also about listening. That’s worth reading twice.  Practice active listening during conversations by giving your full attention, asking thoughtful questions, and showing empathy. Not only does this help you better understand the needs and interests of the person you’re speaking with, but it also demonstrates respect and fosters deeper connections.

Networking should not just be a professional obligation; it’s an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, learn from other business owners, and discover new opportunities. By approaching networking with authenticity, purpose, and a genuine love for helping people, you can turn it into a fulfilling and enjoyable aspect of your professional life. So, go forth, network with gusto, and watch as your connections and opportunities flourish.

About Doris Gibbons

Doris Gibbons is passionate about her work as an Insurance Agent and has more than 30 years of experience. Her work is guided by a mission to understand clients’ needs and put in place the proper coverage to best protect them. Gibbons Insurance Agency of American Family is licensed in Ohio and Indiana to insure Home, Auto, Life, Small Businesses, & Non-profits. (Removed). Doris is a Founding Member, Past Board Member and Ambassador for Greater Harrison Chamber of Commerce.