The Entrepreneur’s Corner
Network before you need work
Recently I had the opportunity to hear a speaker at a networking event with more than 500 attendees, and he asked them “Who is here today to sell something, to get some business?” More than half of those in the audience raised their hands. He then asked, “Now who is here today to buy something?” Not a single person raised their hand.
This is an all too familiar refrain when it comes to what is often thought of as “networking.” Many people attend networking events when they need work or want to close the next big deal, and they are consistently disappointed because people simply do not attend these events to buy. I am not saying that business never happens at networking events, it does, but it is rare, and even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.
In addition to this networking disconnect, there are literally dozens of networking events in the Henrico area every day of the week. You can end up just running from meeting to meeting with little to show for it, other than heartburn from drinking lots of bad coffee. So how can you make your networking work for you?
Here are my top tips to help you get the most from attending networking events:
1. Be prepared. Have your essential networking tools with you - business cards, a nametag, and a pen. Know what you’re going to say when someone asks “So what do you do?”
2. Set a goal for the event. Keep it simple, start with how many people you’d like to meet. Make it a reasonable number, 3 or 5, not 50.
3. Act like a host, not a guest. Help others meet people who can help them. Give a referral whenever possible. Listen for opportunities to solve people's problems by connecting them with your referral partners.
4. Listen and ask the 5 Ws – who, what, where, why, and when. You have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionally.
5. Spend your time meeting new people and don't linger with friends and associates. You didn't come here to socialize with people you already know!
And the most important tip...
Follow up with the people you meet. Most people collect business cards and never do anything with them. Contact each of the 3 to 5 people that you connected with and invite them to a one-to-one meeting. Don’t just dump them in to your e-mail marketing campaign – that does more harm than good.
Remember that the purpose of networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. You should be planting the seeds for lasting relationships, not thinking about bagging your next prey.
Reynolds Community College will host Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale Sept. 28 as he shares his presentation “Art Talk, Why Art Matters” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Conference Center Gallery of the Workforce Development and Conference Center on the Parham Road Campus, located at 1651 E. Parham Road in Richmond. This event is free and open to the public. > Read more.
The Children's Clothing Closet at Highland Springs United Methodist Church will be open Saturday, Aug. 27 and Tuesday, Aug. 30 to provide free new or nearly new children's clothing for families in need, prior to the start of the school year. The Clothing Closet will be open from 10 a.m. to noon both days. The church is located at 22 North Holly Avenue. > Read more.
Three local churches are holding events on Saturday: A Fall Veterans and Community Health Fair and Blood Drive at Antioch Baptist Church in Varina; a Fall Children’s Consignment Sale at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in the West End; and a Community Day event at Fair Oaks Baptist Church in Highland Springs. Two events are also planned in Henrico for history buffs: A tour of New Market Heights and a commemoration of the battle for Fort Harrison. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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