As the Chair of the Greater Southwest Chapter of the Michigan Credit Union League, Kenneth “Kenny” Leonard has seen a lot of new networkers come and go. When asked what he sees as their biggest mistakes, he responds “Sticking with those they already know.”
Leonard knows the value of connecting with new people whenever you can. While becoming the Vice President of Commercial Loan Services at Arbor Financial Credit Union, he’s met mentors, advisors, and the “centers of influence” who’ve been able to introduce him to potential clients. He’s even developed connections with those who eventually ended up working beside him. In fact, Kenny encountered his current Director of Commercial Lending at Arbor Financial through his networking in a variety of industry-focused groups.
He hasn’t always been a master of networking. He confided that when he started out he ran into a lot of frustration because he walked into networking events with the wrong mental focus. “I was focused on making the sale — on finding clients wherever I went.” He claims it wasn’t until he start focusing more on the relationships that his networking really took off.
In addition to MCUL, Kenny also participates in the Michigan Business Brokers Association, the Southwest Michigan Professionals Network, and the local Chamber of Commerce. One of his favorite networking activities are the occasional golf outing. He sees them as great opportunities to spend quality time with his connections and deepen professional relationships over a shared interest.
If you are a “reluctant networker”, Kenny has some words of advice “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Look around at the successful networkers — the centers of influence. Learn from them. Make them your mentors.” Their skills and connections will help you become skilled yourself.
One more reason to network.