Benefits of networking Email
Tuesday, May 23, 2017 05:00 AM

Benefits of networkingThink industry social events are just a fun night out? Think again. Some of the best professional learning opportunities can begin at a party or happy hour. It may seem daunting to enter a room of peers—perhaps those from more established businesses—and strike up a conversation. But a few moments of discomfort can lead to valuable advice and beneficial relationships.

As many landscape professionals will tell you, the green industry can be an open, friendly environment. Those involved in professional associations are interested in elevating the reputation of the industry, and they understand that they can do that by helping others succeed.

Face-to-face social networking with those types of pros is an opportunity for growth. Here’s what you can do:

  • Got a problem area of your business plan? Ask for help. See how colleagues deal with budgets, bidding, or staffing issues.

  • Benchmark your business. Talk with peers about their work, and get a feel for how your own company measures against others in your class.

  • Get to know the local regulatory environment. Unsure about a new regulation or law? See how other business owners are dealing with it, and find out about advocacy work being done to affect those new regulations.

  • Find a mentor. A social event can introduce you to more experienced colleagues. Following up on those introductions can establish a helpful relationship that can lead to a long-term mentorship.

In study findings published in MIT Sloan Management Review (Sgourev and Zuckerman, 2006), researchers observed of industry peer networks:

In meetings and in informal conversations with their peers, members receive ample and, most importantly, credible information about industry trends and the performance of comparable companies in other markets. That information helps members build realistic expectations for the future and correct for misperceptions about the strength of their own performance.

Informal settings let you speak frankly and perhaps in more detail than you might at a formal education event. Hearing what other companies are doing or what issues they are encountering can help you identify local trends or anticipate government actions like audits.

The support and advice are there--you just need to ask for it.

Practice your networking skills at an upcoming ALCC networking event:

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Best management practices for bee health released
Volunteers build an outdoor learning lab in ALCC Southern Chapter

ALCC Denver Chapter helps Green Mountain High program grow
BrightView overcomes logistical challenges in breathtaking Gateway Canyons