In only three years I went from knowing nobody to becoming one of the most connected people in my region. I went from abject poverty to owning three successful companies. I couldn’t have given advice on how to effectively get one client and now I am sought after by professionals and start-ups from across Alberta. Would you like to know how I did it?
I got involved in business networking. That is the pure, simple, reality of it.
For 12 years I was a Pastor and as a Pastor I was in a bubble. My whole life was the church and the people in the church. My congregations were almost completely employees and the very poor. I did not know or understand business. I knew nobody who was a successful business person and I did not know even one entrepreneur. In 2011 I decided to make a change and start a business of my own. My company was an online marketing company and one of my first clients was Jim Messner who owned the Calgary Business Network. Jim impressed upon me the importance of building good relationships, exchanging business, working with people and not being aggressively competitive but being a person who always looked to add value. Jim is still an excellent mentor and a great friend.
I really tied into networking. I got involved and went to meetings and then one day when Jim couldn’t make it, I ran the meeting and discovered something powerful. Those who ran the event were seen as leaders and they got more business than those who just came as a participant! That day I wrote one deal on the spot and had two successful sales later in the week. As a result, I decided that I wanted to take part in running one of the ongoing groups.
After a year I had made a lot of new friends. My social media skills were helping me to also grow an online network and often when people would see me in person they would exclaim that they already knew me online. My reputation was growing and my life was changing.
In January of 2012 Jim decided to retire and spend more time in the US so he offered to sell me the network. I jumped at the opportunity and began improving the offering of the network. Within 12 months we had grown it by 300% and it was turning a profit and my influence was expanding. In November of 2012 I was approached by my largest competitor in the region to take their weekly networking clubs and add them to our business so in January of 2013 we acquired the Progressive Group of Independent Business lunch chapters. This year has been a whirlwind of successes as the entire network has taken off.
Today people will ask me why I believe our company is the best or why we believe we have such a great unique proposition and I tell them that it is because I was a business owner just like them when I got started. I did not inherit this network. I was a small business who needed new warm leads and referrals. I had a service to sell and I was struggling to survive just like most people who get started on their own. My biggest advantage was that I had good mentors like Jim Messner who helped me make wise decisions and showed me how to network properly. Today we train on many of those skills and offer them to others and that is why our network is making an impact. This is all about helping others succeed. When we help enough people increase their profit then we also enjoy the benefits of those relationships.
Networking works. When one invests time into themselves and into others it is a win/win for everyone!
Kerry George is the owner of the Canadian Imperial Business Network which is currently the largest business network in Alberta and rapidly expanding across the country. She is a serial entrepreneur/author and speaker with a zest for life and a passion to help others succeed in increasing their potential and their bottom line. Kerry has several publications and blogs that you can follow and welcomes most interaction online.