Ah the limitless power of networking. We all want to access it more effectively, but the goal can be daunting.
Luckily, we got to sit down and chat with an expert on the subject. Sara Freeman, VP of Business Development at Truity CU shares some fantastic insight around how you and your credit union can turn networking into a community-building exercise—this week on CRMNEXT’s Banking on Experience.
Why Sara’s passionate about networking.
What started “out of necessity” when she moved to a new city quickly grew for Sara into a love of connecting with people and of helping them connect with others.
How your CU can build a proper network.
Sara believes credit unions are already doing a lot of things for their members and are in a prime position to make real connections, but at the heart of it all, “People want to do business with people they know—or with people that someone they know knows.” So true connection is essential.
Building network + helping community.
Sara’s CU gets involved in a lot of sponsorships for non-profits in their community, offers grants, and provides a 360 program to help their employees learn more about the communities in which they live and work. As she says, “I think it’s really about identifying needs and making sure we’re providing solutions – not just from a credit union to a member perspective, but in the community.”
Loyalty vs. Convenience: how networking fosters both.
Our expert shares some stellar examples here that you’ll want to tune in for, including an especially enlightening story regarding the loyalty of college students in the university town that’s one of her CU’s major markets.
What a give-first mentality can do for your CU.
Sara believes in giving with a servant’s heart. In her words, “We want to serve our employees, our communities, our members, our not members, because we believe if we’re continuing to serve and make connections, eventually those people will come back and choose to do business with us at some point.”
She also lauds the value of finding ways to have collaboration within the community. Working on non-profit boards has expanded Sara’s network and given her insight into where there’s overlap of services, which in turn helps her CU to eliminate that duplication and make sure they’re providing the best with their dollars.
Top tips for getting out of your comfort zone.
Our expert offers so many awesome take-aways here. But to sum up a few:
- It’s more about quality than quantity. Sara cautions that having 800 connections on LI doesn’t automatically equal a great network. “If you can’t pick up the phone and call one of those people and have them even slightly know who you are,” she says, “that’s not necessarily the connection you want to be making.”
- If you’re trying to connect with someone, remember to do your due diligence beforehand. (And for Pete’s sake, spell their name correctly!)
- Look close to home. Too often people look at networking too far out, when there are people in our lives that we interact with daily who can be an incredibly valuable part of our network.
- Be kind, gracious, and direct. “You have to be willing to say ‘Here’s who I am, and here’s what I’m looking for. Is there a space for us to connect?’”
A direct challenge to our listeners.
We’ll let you listen in for this one, but if you take the challenge (and we hope you do), we want to hear about it! Sendyour stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to contact our expert?
You can reach Sara on FB (she describes herself as “a Facebook OG” ☺), on Instagram as menuplanningmama, or on LinkedIn.