Over the past couple of weeks, for two weeks today in fact, I have been becoming reacquainted with one of the greatest reasons to become a Toastmaster; Networking. Two Tuesday’s ago I was called into the board room with several other people and told that business was just too slow to keep us on, for now.
I had no real reason to be worried because I have one of the greatest networking groups in the world behind me. Toastmasters International provides us with the opportunity to meet with members from literally all over the world. Every once in a while we see an article in Toastmaster about members traveling the world and looking up the local Toastmasters group in the city the wind blew them to. They always find a friendly face and help with anything they need.
The wind blew me into the dark city of Unemployment and maybe it’s providence, but we are also in the middle of a contest season. This is a great opportunity to attend Area Contests and soon Division Contests. I have an opportunity to share my story, but more importantly, I also have an opportunity to help the speakers with my own experience in competitive speaking.
Why is it more important that I help others? As the Online Coach and Mentor Aylen De Aranza reminded us in her Huffington Post, February 12, 2016 article, “Five Ways to Network Like a Rock Star,” “One of the most powerful and genuine ways that you can network is by being a connector; focus on how you can add value to others.” In other words, networking is not about you; it’s about how many people you can help. People recognize when you genuinely want to help. They also recognize, very quickly in fact, when you’re in it for yourself and they will treat you accordingly. So far I have made two important connections just by going to the contests and preparing for my own contest. One asked for two, count them two, copies of my resume and the other has offered her huge LinkedIn network for my use. I also have a lead with an engineer who recently recovered from the same fall I just experienced. As a result of the networking I did using the skills I learned and practiced in Toastmasters, I have gained three job interviews.
In Aylen’s article she points out five steps to become a great networker. Here in Toastmasters we have the opportunity to practice all five with no real significant effects if we do them wrong. If we mess up or wimp out at one event, it’s okay. Since Toastmasters is a laboratory, we can get back on the saddle and try again next time.