Connection - what is it and what makes it such an important aspect of one’s life?
It’s no mistake that the name of this blog post is the same as our R.E.A.L. Biz Moms event that we host monthly called “Building Connections”, as that is one of our foundational mandates we hold dear here at RBM. Why, you ask? Because it’s all about you, mama and how we can make not only your business a success, but all aspects of your life feel more supported and fulfilling.
Our Building Connections event aside, we’re here to explore why connecting and networking is so important on an individual level as well as a collective level. Here’s the truth, we are social beings. Humans are designed to develop connections and thrive through building interpersonal relationships. If the pandemic taught us anything it’s how important social interaction and connection is. Even if you identify on the more introverted side, having relationships - both business and personal - are integral to human growth and development.
Why Networking and Connecting
So let’s break this down a bit further. What is networking and what are the benefits of networking and connecting with others? The Oxford dictionary defines networking as “the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.” We are likely familiar with the benefits related to business, but if not, here is a quick breakdown:
1) It improves your professional recognition: One of the quickest ways to build a following (if you’re online) or spread the word and recognition of your business and brand is through networking and word of mouth referrals. This is best done through networking events both online and in person. We’ve probably all been to an event where someone makes some connection to a person that would be interested in hearing what you have to say or purchasing a product or a service you may provide – well that is precisely what you need when building a name for yourself or your business and networking events can do just that.
2) Potential to Grow Status in Your Field: Allowing your network to recognize you as the expert in what you do will only help you when it comes to building a reputation or status in your field of expertise. In business today there is a lot of emphasis on the ‘Build, Like Trust’ formula. Being recognized as an expert through your growing network can catapult you right into that Trust category which is great for any business.
3) Increases Resources and Support: Networking can be good for the internal workings of your business too. Building your network allows for you to have others that may be experts in areas you’re not as familiar with at your fingertips and ready and willing to help in a pinch. Need expertise in marketing? Facebook ads? Hosting events? You’ll have a list of expertise in various areas that can help you build and scale your business when needed. Just remember to respect that they are running a business too and it’s important to maintain value in the services others offer, so don’t expect freebies.
4) Collaboration. Collaboration. Collaboration: Did I hear collaboration? This is what business is all about – forget competition, that’s so last decade. Using your network to leverage connections and enhance each other’s offerings is a beautiful thing. Even if you’re working in the same field or industry as some of those in your network, coming together to collaborate on events, product and service offerings isn’t only good for your business, but your collaborative partners AND those clients you’re offering your services to for so many reasons we could write another blog about it!
5) Enhances Creativity and the Exchange of Ideas: There’s a saying that goes “Tell me with whom you associate, and I will tell you who you are.” While that may sound frightening at first, it’s actually a very positive outcome when it comes to networking and building your connections. We can be a genius on our own, but put your ideas out on the table with one or two other like-minded professionals who “get it” and your ideas and creativity can grow to stratospheric proportions. Not only can our creativity and ideas be enhanced, but as a team those ideas can move faster from pen and paper to reality.
For those mama’s in business these benefits stated above are so important to our success. Knowing that you’re supported and have other mompreneurs or working moms that can relate to the endless juggling of responsibilities both at home and in your business can feel so fulfilling… but it goes deeper than that.
The Deeper Meaning of Connecting
Connection is integral to our physical, mental and emotional well-being. In the study Connectedness & Health: The Science of Social Connection, the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford Medicine reports that:
"People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Moreover, studies show they also have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, are more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. In other words, social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being."
The Added Benefit of Building Connections
Where there is connection there is a sense of ‘us’ and that has many benefits that can be attributed to our well-being, especially as a mom who often can feel like her needs come last on the list. These benefits include:
1. A Feeling of Belonging: One of our biggest reasons for developing connection and relationship is to feel as though we belong. As young as age 4 we’re trying to figure out where we belong using various social experiments, and to be honest, this continues for most all of our life. When you find a community of like-minded individuals, this sense of belonging can be satiated and can bring with it a peace of mind and a full heart.
2. A Sense of Community: Similarly to feeling as though you belong, when you build community, you feel understood, seen, heard and valued. Having a community that can lift you up when you’re having a bad day, provide a helping hand when you need it most and be there for you no matter the circumstance allows for us to be comfortable showing our true selves, be authentic and feel accepted as we are. That level and sense of support is invaluable.
3. Builds Confidence: When we feel heard and understood and can also get a better perspective of what we can contribute to the greater community and collective. We’re able to see outside of ourselves for moments at a time which can reduce that imposter syndrome that seems to sneak up on even the best of us. Having community mirror back to you your value and the positive effect you and your business is having on those around you can assist in building a level of self-confidence that cannot be gained in a silo.
4. Reduces Stress and Anxiety: We know that moms need other moms. There’s a level of understanding that needs no words when you sit in a room of other moms that ‘just get it’. The level of anxiety and depression amongst new moms is at an all-time high and without the sense of connection and a safe place to gather we can often lose faith in our ability to manage and parent whilst also running a business or working a full-time job. Being able to feel as if you’re not alone in itself can assist with the stress and possible anxiety that goes along with being a busy working mother.
5. Increases overall Health and Happiness: It is said that those who have deeper connections and support experience lower anxiety and depression, are better able to regulate their emotions, have increased levels of empathy, and a stronger immune systems.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the benefits of building connections and networking, but does provide you some ideas on how you can use networking and connections to better your life, both professionally and personally.
If you are in a new line of business, starting your own business, wanting to expand your network, or perhaps have just recently relocated, our best tips to begin growing your network are as follows:
1. Be Specific: First understand what kind of people you want to meet that will enhance your network – is it a particular industry, geographical location, area of expertise, or area of interest/hobby. Leverage online networking or special interest groups on platforms like MeetUp or Facebook, or look for membership based groups in your area that fit those specifics.
2. Focus on Giving: All connections require a give and take. Sometimes when we’re starting on a quest to build a network the focus can skew towards what you can get out of it. The complete opposite should be the focus to more magnetically attract those that are a right fit for you and your business. What can you give to a potential network of people or a collaborative partner? Knowing this can assist in you attracting the right connections. For more on this shift in mindset, I recommend reading The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann.
3. Build Relationships: Focus on building relationship and getting to know the people in your network on a human level. Sometimes the best business deals are done when the walls are down and you have a relationship with the human sitting in front of you. While we’re not advising going deep into others’ personal lives, we are encouraging real connection. The days of surface level “what can you do for me” relationships are over as people crave real, authentic connection with others in their network.
4. Reciprocate Help and Advice: Similarly to number 2, but slightly different. Be the connector, the resource giver, the one that knows another that may be able to help or be interested in what others are offering and you will see how quickly that same service and value will be reciprocated without you even needing to ask.
5. Seek Out Networking Events: While the online world has made making connections across time and space extremely easy, there’s nothing that can replace those face-to-face networking events and interactions. Simply searching for events happening in your area can be a great place to start building connections with those that are like-minded and/or have interests and passions that are near and dear to you and your business.
R.E.A.L. Biz Moms is hosting our next Building Connections event this month. Check out our events page for a Building Connections event in your area. And since we’re all about building a network of support for mama’s, if you’re interested in hosting one in an area not already listed on our events page, email us at email@example.com