Two women looking at a laptop in a store

The Importance of Networking

How to Go Beyond Schmoozing

In business, it’s not always what you know but who you know that matters. That’s why networking is so incredibly important when you own or run a business. According to a LinkedIn survey, 61% of those polled said networking leads to opportunities. However, that same poll showed that only 25% of business pros actively network. We had the chance to chat with Janet Steele, President/CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce about the benefits of networking and why you should boost your networking game. 

Why Networking Is Important

Networking benefits include expanded industry knowledge, making new connections, creating new opportunities, boosting sales and workplace confidence, and increasing your business profile. However, not everyone is comfortable with networking and meeting new people. Steele explained that attending networking events, making the first approach, and smiling are big steps. 

“If it’s uncomfortable for you, it’s probably uncomfortable for them,” she stated. “You’re not alone. Networking can be difficult for everyone. Not everyone is the light of the room every time. It takes work.”

Where to Start Networking

Depending on where your business is based, there’s a chamber of commerce nearby. Local chambers in the communities Central Willamette Credit Union serves include the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, Bend Chamber, Corvallis Chamber, Lebanon Chamber and Visitor Center, Newport Chamber, and Salem Chamber of Commerce. When you join your area chamber, you’ll quickly gain access to networking events and opportunities. Then, it’s simply up to you to get the most out of it. 

As Steele clarified, those engaged with their local chamber, attending events, being present, and meeting people will build their networks much faster. 

“I have met the most phenomenal people by being present and saying hello,” Steele said with a smile. 

What Makes a Great Networker

Steele shared some of the characteristics of those who take networking to the next level. 

  • Be a communicator: But don’t just talk. Actively listen as well. Create a dialogue and showcase your true communication skills. 
  • Be authentic: Don’t just collect business cards and contact info. Take steps to show people who you are and genuinely demonstrate an interest in them and their business. 
  • Share the love: Help other business owners as much as you can. If possible, offer free advice or services. There’s a very good chance they will return the favor. 
  • Show empathy: When you understand and can sense the feelings of others, you can build incredible connections. 
  • Be positive: Show enthusiasm toward your community, other business owners, and the future. A ray-of-sunshine approach will make others want to meet and get to know you — simplifying your networking approach. 
  • Always deliver: If you promise something, follow through. You don’t want to be known as the local business pro who cannot be trusted. 

Network with Our Business Team 

Central Willamette Credit Union has the business products and services you need. That includes savings and checking accounts, business loans, merchant services, as well as a team of dedicated professionals who want to see you succeed.

“Central Willamette Credit Union is one of those financial institutions that strongly believes in being a full community participant...and giving back. It’s evident in everything they do.” 

Janet Steele, President/CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce