There are two things that will get me out of bed at 6 a.m. Saturday: Tailgating and an early flight. A couple of weeks ago, however, I was up and on the road by 6:30 a.m. to volunteer at a golf outing. I have worked at this event for four years and it’s always a good time, but that didn’t stop me from dreading the early wake up call.

 Plus, the weather wasn’t great. Our team had to take down and put up our set-up four times for rain delays before the outing was called. While I feel for all of the volunteers and the golfers who didn’t get a chance to play, selfishly, the day was a great one for our brand team thanks to networking.

 That networking led to securing a presenting sponsor for one of our events in Lapeer, and I was able to chat face-to-face with a few people I’d been exchanging emails with all week.

 All good business folks know in theory that networking works, but sometimes we need a reminder of why this medium is such a powerful way to make connections. Still not sold? Here are two reasons you should network:

 You get to know people on a different level: Networking events are work events, but they have a different vibe than an office or even a lunch meeting. People are a little more relaxed and share more, making it easier to get to know them.

 You up your profile: Most of us want to be known. It takes a lot of networking to make this happen, especially in bigger cities, but it’s worth it. Even if you don’t speak to a potential client at a particular event, chances are when you do set the meeting they’ll say, “Oh yeah, I think I met (or saw) you at that one event.”

 Not all networking is easy. Hello, awkward silences and conversations. Here are two ways to help with that:

 Ask questions: Think like a journalist. Ask tons of open-ended (not yes or no) questions.

 Smile: Even if you’ve had a long day, don’t stop smiling when networking. Everyone at a networking event has the same goals — to meet people and create connections — make it easy for others to achieve those goals.

 Networking isn’t always convenient. Sometimes it’s after hours, sometimes it’s at 6 a.m. on a Saturday, but it’s always worth it.

 Why do you believe in networking? Email me at ecaswell@mihomepaper.com.

 Emily Caswell is the Brand Manager for VIEW Group, the branding division of View Newspaper Group. A graduate of Michigan State University’s Journalism School, she lives in downtown Fenton with her husband Matt and their rescue pup, Yeti.

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