As a youth activity center owner, your primary focus is to serve the families who are part of your organization. However, as you aim to expand your influence and build your business, networking can be a valuable tool. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and networking allows you to leverage your strengths to benefit others while allowing your center to benefit from the strengths of experts and peers within your field.
Whether you prefer the term “networking” or simply “peer relationship development,” you may want to consider building a relationship with the gym, studio, or swim school across town or in the next town over. Peer networking can help form connections that will challenge you professionally and benefit your organization in countless ways.
The benefits of networking with peers can include very high-level topics such as insight into how to overcome obstacles and capitalize on high gain activities. These benefits range from immediate to long-term, business to personal.
Immediate Benefits of Networking
A key way that peer networking, or connecting with another activity center owner, can be helpful in the short-term is when you’re looking for candidates for a position you have open. Perhaps the other center heard about a great potential instructor but isn’t in a position to hire that person right now. Or maybe they had to recently downsize and let go of a valuable team member. Either way, interacting with your peers can be a great way to get inside information about a prospective job candidate.
Another potential benefit from interacting with your professional peers that can come right away is that someone in a similar field and role can often offer valuable insight regarding a difficult situation about which you’re uncertain. Advice from anyone can prove helpful, but advice from a peer can be especially appropriate, since that person has potentially dealt with similar obstacles.
Long-Term Benefits of Networking
Over time, networking can offer even greater value. These valuable contacts can help you fill any gaps your staff has regarding special skills, if such gaps come up in the future. Sometimes you don’t have a current need for a certain service or expertise, but as your business grows, you can find such expertise extremely helpful. If you already know of someone who can help fill a gap, the situation and potential expansion can become less daunting.
Nonquantifiable Benefits of Networking
Networking within your industry is difficult to quantify, so especially for task-oriented professionals, taking the time and effort to pursue professional relationships can seem pointless. But just because the worth of something isn’t immediately apparent does not mean it lacks value.
Often, interacting with your colleagues means forming relationships with people with similar values and life goals. As those relationships deepen, you might find it surprising how those individuals can offer unique insight and encouragement that extends to your personal life. Never underestimate the power of everyday conversations to lead to deepening friendships, professional growth, or both!
Want to learn more specific ways that peer networking is so important? Check out Part 2 of this series.