In this blog I would like to talk about not just networking, but Tribe Building. When I first started my business, I joined the Chamber of Commerce and regularly participated in committees. This was very time consuming and was a waste of time and investment for me.
However, by that experience, I learned that my networking focus must include the right types of groups and organizations, ones that fit my needs. I discovered the South Carolina Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (SCARP), supported by case managers. The relationships I developed with some of the case managers have been extraordinarily important to my business, as they are often influential in hiring interpreters.
After SCARP, I joined the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Education Association (http://www.catiweb.org/), where I interacted with more case managers as well as adjusters and attorneys that also hire interpreters. Instead of networking in general groups, I began to concentrate on specific groups related to my industry. I discovered that just being a member of the organization meant nothing. It is about building rapport with people. I became part of a tribe, and in that tribe we support one another as much as we can. I have worked closely with various members for common goals, such as the Kids’ Chance (http://kidschancesc.org/).
Thanks to timely advice from Judy Jenner, we then joined the Carolina Association of Translators and Interpreters (CATI) in addition to the American Translators Association (http://www.atanet.org/). Collaboration with like-minded colleagues requires that we hold each other to a higher standard, promoting education, ethics, and best practices. Forming an association of qualified professionals that can refer work to one another also makes sense. CATI is very strong in North Carolina and weak in South Carolina, where I reside. This has created a vital need for us to build our own tribe within the organization. We reach out and connect with professionals in Greenville. We also host social networking events. It’s not just good for our business; a collaborative spirit is good for everyone. Remember, tribe-building is not just superficial networking; it entails cultivating deep relationships
I have placed ads in the local Spanish language newspaper from time to time. It rarely produced any work for our business. Nevertheless, people have called the Spanish paper asking for an interpreter and were referred to us. Why? It wasn’t the ad; it was our connection with the paper. There are many companies and organizations serving the Latino community in Greenville. The question for me was, how can I include them in my inner circle with my limited time? Simple; build another club that would foster unification of community leaders in a collective spirit. Therefore, Toastmasters Bilingüe was born. Toastmasters is a non-profit organization assisting people become better public speakers and leaders. Creating a bilingual club tailored to serve the Spanish-speaking population is the perfect way to bring all these civic leaders together and use effective communication to foster relationships. We have become a self-sustaining tribe.
The bottom line is that entrepreneurs need to constantly acquire more business. Our time is limited so we need to determine with laser focus where our best opportunities are for networking. Simple networking is not enough, we need to build relationships. Join a tribe, or build one that really matters. You and your business will thrive.