When it comes to building your business, peer networking is an often under-appreciated factor that can be leveraged to enhance your current status as well as help propel you into a growth-minded future. Perhaps you’re really not sure exactly how peer networking works or can work for you. While we discussed some general ways it can be an asset to your activity center in Part 1, now we’ll take the time to get into more specifics.
Making Important Connections with Local Peers
When you network with peers, you’re building friendships, or at least friendly working relationships. And you never know how valuable those relationships can be. And you’re building them with people that can help connect you with other people, organizations, vendors, service providers, and more, that are relevant to your activity center.
One helpful source of peer networking will include owners of other local activity centers that focus on skills other than the ones you do For instance, if you wanted to rent a bus for a trip, other local activity centers could let you know of local companies that have great prices and are dependable — and maybe warn you about one that did not provide great service. This kind of word-of-mouth recommendation (or cautionary tale) can definitely save you a lot of time, money, and frustration.
Overcoming Challenges with Industry-Specific Peers
In addition to local peers, you can find it extremely helpful to network with other skill-specific centers across the state, the country, or even the world. You’re likely to face similar challenges but address them differently, and we can all learn from one another! Ranging from sympathetic conversation to resource recommendations, you might be surprised how helpful it is to interact with others who have the same focus and goals as you do.
Stephanie Tomalis, Director of Operations at Charlotte Aquatics in Charlotte, NC, says that she finds this kind of networking to be “critical to our success.” She goes on to explain, “Insight is everything when you can gain perspective from a colleague in your industry who is already doing what you do – just in a different way.”
Where can you find these helpful colleagues? One place to start is the alumni association of your college. Often, these groups will hold targeted events to help professionals build relationships with other professionals who are graduates of the same school.
Building Your Knowledge Base with Each Conversation
The more you interact with peers within your field, the more connected you’ll become within it, allowing you to be able to build strategic bridges with seasoned professionals outside your usual sphere. Not only will you be more connected, but each connection will bring with it conversations that will add to your knowledge base, gaining you more respect within your field. And you have no idea where that greater influence can lead.
Interactions with those outside your usual circle can come through volunteering at industry-specific events or participating in local community service opportunities.
Continue reading with Part 3.