By Himmler Joachim
Today, instead of a profile, I’ve decided to make a post about my networking experiences with the Orange Chamber. I want this post to be a lesson for all those who doubt the power of simply putting yourself out there. I am already stunned at the progress I’ve made just by being affiliated with the wonderful individuals at the Chamber office.
Ok, here we go.
Two months ago, I had decided to accelerate my dream of becoming a freelance writer. I talked to my friend Ethan and told me to look into the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, since that was how he got his first job.
A couple of emails, a phone call, and an interview later, I was officially brought on as an intern for the Chamber, in charge of blog posts (like this one!), editing, and other assorted duties.
While doing this job, I was able to meet a diverse and vibrant collection of members in the Hudson Valley business community.
In between publishing my business member profile interviews on this blog, I took a personal pledge to be proactive about my client wrangling, and put myself out there. I went to as many conferences, meetings, and breakfasts as I could, stretching my networking skills to the max. If you know me in person, I’m sure you wouldn’t call me shy, but I had to become even more social in order to get the business contacts I have now.
While working at the chamber, Ellen Daley, Vice President of Communications, gave me a list of contacts to speak to about writing needs.
Now here is where my story gets good.
These men and women affiliated with the Chamber were specifically companies that employ writers.
Just what I needed!
I sent emails, left voice messages, and had a few quick chats over the phone.
Then I waited.
As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait long at all!
Not long after leaving a message for one of the companies, Ellen notified me that I received a callback. I picked up the line.
The founder of a construction materials testing firm wanted to know if I was interested in being an on-staff Technical Writer. I enthusiastically said yes!
I went to his office for an interview the next day (Saturday morning. I was dedicated!), and we’re now in talks to have me do a trial documentation project in the near future.
While sending out emails from this same contact list, I was also able to make a contact with a local advertising company. It was another next day interview. I sat with the CEO and the creative director, and together we talked copywriting, another field that I have been interested in exploring. After our meeting, we decided that I’d start with blog posts for now (which as you can see, I’m already more than comfortable with).
Lastly, through one of the profiles I did, my subject recommended that I speak to the editor of a prominent local newspaper. From that one meeting, I am now a staff writer covering town hall meetings within the Hudson Valley area. The subsequent articles that I wrote for the newspaper were my first published articles ever!
What can you take from all three of these examples? Not only the benefits of networking with the Chamber, but the power of “warm” networking in general. Through the Chamber, I’ve been meeting potential clients constantly, and I’m looking forward to meeting more!
In addition to seeing the fruits of my networking labor, here are two distinct rules that I’ve learned during these two months:
1. Networking takes TIME
It’s easy to think that the Chamber “isn’t working for me,” and “I am not getting any benefit from being a member,” but it could perhaps be because you have not been patient enough to reap the benefits. You have to take the time to get to know people, just as they are taking the time to get to know you.
This leads to my second revelation:
2. Networking takes WORK
You can’t just sit back and expect new clients and opportunities to appear in front of you. You have to go out there and get them.
I tried to be as proactive as I could, attending Chamber events, helping out with clean-up, staying late, and never leaving an event until I have at least two new contacts.
I use the term “contacts” flexibly. My primary goal is to leave a Chamber event with two new business cards in my wallet, but it can also mean simply talking to two new people that I haven’t talked to before. Even if I’m late to an event, like I was yesterday because of car issues, I always work to find these two special people.
TIME + WORK = SUCCESS!
And let me remind you, it’s only been two months!
Judging by how much I have accomplished, and how satisfied I am with the results, I can’t wait to see what the next two months have in store for me at the Chamber!