Building Business Relationships Series: A Better Approach to Networking

Interview with Pathway WBC Director Courtenay Rogers


In our building essential relationships for business series, we’re returning to the topic of networking this week to sort out the mixed data and messages we get on networking, a byproduct of our mixed feelings, that we covered last week.

Today, in a short interview with Pathway WBC Director Courtenay Rogers, we’re sharing insights from her own shift in her networking practices that followed a change in perspective and how she’s seen that benefit her own professional pursuits and those of WBC clients as well.


Q: In your own experience or observations, what do you believe is the best way to gain value in networking with others?

A: My approach to networking is to ask how I can be helpful to the person I’m speaking with early in the conversation. Far too often, people attend events with the intention of asking people they meet for something without taking time to build trust first.


Q: What type of business relationships should entrepreneurs focus on building?

A: Starting a business is tough so I tell entrepreneurs to surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are and ask for help often. Business relationships should benefit both parties, so if you are strong in an area where you can offer assistance, do so. And don’t be afraid to ask other business owners who are great at what they do for help.


Q: How do you continue a relationship that you established through networking?

A: The first thing I recommend is to follow up with a person you met to remind them where you met and offer a way you can assist them. Perhaps you read an article they may enjoy or have an event they’d like to attend. If you’re simply looking to sell your services to someone, that’s not a relationship. If you want to make further connections with others, get their permission first. Some relationships will naturally grow and others will not take off at all and that’s perfectly fine. It takes time to establish yourself, so don’t force it.


Q: What advice might you give for business professionals who don’t want to step out of their comfort zone to network?

A: If people don’t know you exist, they won’t know how to hire you. We want to know the people behind the company, so it’s important that you take time to show up and meet new people.


Q: What are some networking “no no’s” that you think are important for new business owners to know?

A: Please don’t ask someone if you can pick their brain over a cup of coffee. Just ask them the question you want answered and don’t expect a complete stranger to take time from their day for a coffee and chit chat.


Q: How have you seen networking directly benefit Pathway WBC clients?

A: The relationships built in our Discover and Embark Cohorts are very powerful. A group of entrepreneurs, all in different industries and markets, very quickly realize how they can help each other. Contacts and resources are shared and they can even end up hiring each other as their businesses grow. Networking is really just a fancy word for “talking to other people in business” and that’s what our clients do all day long. Our Quarterly Power Surge events — the next is in May — are a perfect way for Pathway clients both old and new to connect, listen and help each other succeed.


If you’re ready to make new connections for your small business, consider joining our Ignite360 mentorship program. As a client, you’ll be matched with a team of mentors who understand your needs and can provide you with the best advice, resources and tools for your success.