How I Came to Networking and what it Means to Me, by Melissa Geiger, M & T Bank

Posted on: June 5 2019

If you asked me a few years back what networking in NJ was like and how it could help me, I don’t think I could have answered you.  Fast forward, and now I can tell you how much networking in NJ has helped me.

Three years ago I was promoted to a Branch Manager position at M & T Bank.  A big part of my job was to bring in business clients, and I was terrified.  At first I tried cold calling and walking into businesses, asking to speak with the owner.  I didn’t enjoy either one of those approaches and was getting worried about how I was going to bring in business.

I started attending small business events to meet business owners, and then I was told by others who were successful in their job to attend one networking event a week to try to meet as many people as I could just to get my name out there.

One thing I love about M&T Bank is they focus on the relationship between the banker and the client.  I attended a class on how to pitch your elevator speech and when I gave it, I was given feedback that it wasn’t personal enough.  I reworked it and now I talk about why I love my job and what I do.  Networking in NJ is not easy but if you do it correctly you can make good friends, help clients, build our business and help others you network with.

I met someone at a networking event that I really connected with and that was when I started enjoying networking. It is really important to make sure to follow up with people and have one on ones to explore the possibility of forming a relationship where you really want to help one another.

The first person I really clicked with happened to know a lot of people in networking groups, so when I attended more events, I would drop her name. When people heard I was friends with Nicole, more people wanted to get to know me and it opened doors. As I got to know more people, my confidence lifted and I started to become successful in networking in NJ.

You have to have confidence or it won’t work. I kept meeting the same woman at numerous events.  One day I walked up to her and said I would love to learn more about her and her business.  We agreed to meet for coffee.  We became instant friends and felt like we knew each other forever.  We helped each other make connections and we kept meeting to see how we could keep helping each other.  During one of our meetings she mentioned that she was in a great networking group where the people all really cared about one another.  A person in the networking group had just left and she thought I would be a great fit.  That brought me to EANJ.

I have been a member of EANJ for over 2 years now and it was the best decision I could have made.  Not only have I gotten business from the group but I’ve given leads to others in the and have worked with many of the members personally. I have made some great friends and really enjoy attending the weekly meetings.  I have learned to always listen when someone is talking because I normally can make a connection for them since I know so many great people.   When people ask me how I knew I was picking the right group to join I tell them I viewed a lot of networking groups but I didn’t feel comfortable with the people.  When I walked into EANJ for the first time everyone was so welcoming.  You need to put in a lot of time to have great networking relationships but I have found that in the end, it’s worth all the effort.

Networking has helped me figure out what I am truly passionate about.  I have found that I love helping people, whether that means introducing two people that can help each other or help them with their banking needs.

When I first became a Branch Manager I was wondering how I was going to add value for people, whether it was a client or a fellow networker.  I get really excited whenever I can make a connection, and now I understand how I add value.  I truly care about helping others, and now I love networking.  I encourage anyone that needs to network to make sure they find a group they truly enjoy going to and that they genuinely want to help the people in the group.

If you understand that you need to give in order to get,  you will be successful in networking in NJ.

Written by: Melissa Geiger, M & T Bank