By Michele Stilwell, Director of Marketing and Accounting at MEDiAHEAD.

Networking - Relationship First. Business Second.I have some thoughts about networking the right way. My goal has always been to focus on the relationship first and business second.

When you’re at a networking event, I wouldn’t recommend handing someone your business card without actually engaging with them first. Your business card is not the important part of the interaction… it’s simply a tool. Face-to-face conversation means everything. Getting to know someone by putting time and effort into the relationship means so much for everyone involved. Find things you have in common, and then make the effort to reach out and set up a time for lunch or coffee.

It’s so worth keeping in touch with people you truly care about! This is a story about how a networking connection turned into a friendship that turned into a business opportunity. And the order matters.

Never underestimate the power of networking and maintaining relationships.

Attending networking events isn’t really my favorite thing to do; however I do attend them. Often, when I get there, I realize “wow, this isn’t so bad.”

My story starts with a networking event about seven years ago. I was sitting at a table and a gentleman came and sat next to me. He leaned over and said, “I really don’t like attending networking events.” I agreed with him and ever since we’ve stayed in touch.

We agreed to have lunch monthly to talk about our careers, dogs and families while sharing social connections.

The goal was to get to know each other without the pressure of ulterior motives. To build that strong professional connection. And it didn’t hurt that we were both in sales, had similar professional contacts and could share war stories.

As this relationship has evolved over the years, he’s moved up in the world.

My friend has an important role with a fantastic company in the Kansas City area. When we met for our next regularly scheduled lunch, he said, “We need a portal!” I thought that was a fantastic idea, and I knew the perfect company that could help. <wink wink> As a result, MEDiAHEAD is in the process of creating a portal for his company, and I still get to have lunch and talk about all the great things going on with his career, dog and family.

Never underestimate the power of a relationships or networking events because they can always develop into something more. And it takes time to do it properly.

At MEDiAHEAD, we want to be part of your trusted network. If you’ve worked with us in the past, you know that we genuinely care about our customers. The relationship is the glue that makes things last. If you don’t have that kind of trusted relationship in the world of printing, let’s talk!

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