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Networking at its simplest and least effective sometimes is simply showing up at an event. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t network unless you are actually there; sometimes showing up may be all that it takes. But if you want to take your networking to another level here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Circles of relationships- Depending on how you are wired personality wise you may tend to only spend time with certain people. When you come to a networking event you go and talk to the same people that you always talk to or only hang out at certain events put on by certain groups. Let me challenge you to read a book, attend an event or conference, go to a workshop that will expose you to new people and new ideas. One of the things we want to encourage our members to do is to take advantage of some of the events, workshops, and trainings offered by other organizations in our area to bring back ideas to not only their business but to the Fountain Valley Business community to improve our business community. Expand your circles!

2. Look in other industries- If you are a realtor you might tend to only try to learn from other realtors, but I have found that as I read and learn from leaders in industries and fields other than myself I can learn principles from them that expand my thinking and creativity. As a mechanic you might not be able to learn how to rebuild a transmis-sion from a Direct Sell company owner but you might be able to learn how to lead the team of mechanics you oversee. I once heard it said leaders learn; the moment you stop learning you stop leading!

3. Don’t sit down- Just because chairs are out when you arrive at an event doesn’t mean that you need to immediately go sit down in one. What happens when you go sit by yourself or with the two people you brought with you? You are basically letting eve-ryone in the room know you aren’t interested in them but they are welcome to come to you if they want to. What about instead of sitting down you mingle around the room meeting new faces and showing others that you are interested in meeting them and learning more about who they are and what they do. Which would be most likely to get you a new customer and some new business? Don’t simply show up and sit down.

Speaking of ways to maximize your exposure and networking. The Chamber is seek-ing out some businesses that want to increase their investment in the business community in Fountain Valley through the Chamber in return for increased advertising and exposure through web, communications and our events. We have Annual Investor packages available currently that explain the investment and the benefits that you can either pick up from the office or get emailed to you. Hope you have a great new year!

Jake Norman is the President of the Fountain Valley Chamber of Commerce as well as Lead Pastor of Fusion Church.