Expanding Your Professional Network When You’re Not Even Trying

Written by Paul Loftus, Owner of CODC.

Many business professionals are required to do some type of networking. Some folks really enjoy the opportunity to get out and meet new people and make connections that can bring them new business. There’s certainly no shortage of options to choose from when it’s time to network. You can attend a professional conference and meet people with similar backgrounds and business challenges. Or, you can take a more relaxed approach and attend an after-work happy hour and meet professionals in a variety of disciplines to gain insight into other industries and look for cross promotional or referral prospects.  I’ve attended both types of events, but recently, I stumbled onto a new, completely unexpected opportunity to network for my business.

Prior to joining Creative Options of DC, I was fortunate to work for a great company, MBNA America.  Some of MBNA’s core values such as Think of yourself as the Customer and Do the Little Things Well and The Big Things Will Follow, had a lasting impact on me. Another that really resonated with me was how important it is to participate in community enrichment and give back those who are less fortunate. During my career at MBNA America I volunteered at soup kitchens, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, participated in the Read Aloud program for young children, and many other great causes that helped everyone from young children to senior citizens. It was always an enriching experience for the people I was helping and also so very good for my inner soul to know I was making a difference in someone’s life.

Fast forward to 2020. I live in a small town where there’s a spirit, civic pride and love for our town which leads to many volunteer efforts. Our community rallies together in many ways, whether it’s adopting a road, building floats for the annual town parade, helping the hungry, or restoring someone’s home that does not have the money to do so. I am currently championing a project for our town to expand our park venues and improve our community center environment. Leading this community effort has become a completely unexpected way to network for my own business. Many of the people I am working with ask me what I do professionally, which has led to some really great conversations. I did not expect my business network to expand but I guess when you least expect something, it just happens. Life is this great journey and sometimes just living your life the right way by giving back to the less fortunate will help you in so many ways.