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Who are your people?

I had to laugh as I typed this title because this is a question a random stranger actually asked my mother years ago as the two of us were leaving an arts and crafts fair. Evidently, her Latino/American Indian heritage was apparent and he felt comfortable asking her about her ethnicity.

That's not what I want to talk about today. I'm actually asking about your networking habits. Here's why: I belong to a very dynamic Chamber of Commerce leads group. We meet twice a month to learn about each others' businesses so we can effectively provide qualified referrals. The group has been a valuable asset for this marketing gal, both for generating new business and for developing a supportive network of like-minded professionals. Here's a photo of the group just before our last meeting began. We meet before breakfast, usually at a local restaurant.

Who are your people? By that I mean, who are the supportive, professional people with whom you interact on a regular basis? If you can't name a few, consider finding some networking activities to attend this month. Face-to-face interactions help you build a positive professional reputation, learn about your local business environment, and develop collaborations with other community leaders.

Your local Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start. I've been a member in two different communities and have enjoyed the business my membership generated as well as the friendships I formed through interactions with its members.

So put on your best smile, fill your pockets with business cards, dust off your handshake -- and get out there already! The relationships you form as a result will be some of the best for your business.

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