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.

Mark Deutsch is a widely recognized expert in word-of-mouth and relationship marketing, and he is the Executive Director/CEO of BNI-Central Virginia, a successful networking and referral organization in the region. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 612-2891.

Patient First to offer free Halloween candy x-rays

Patient First will offer free digital X-ray imaging of Halloween candy at all neighborhood medical centers from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 29 through Oct. 31.

While an adult should always inspect candy before allowing a child to enjoy their trick-or-treating rewards, the free X-ray offer gives parents an additional precaution to consider and to provide peace of mind. X-rays may detect objects such as glass, metal or plastic; however, parents still need to provide supervision, since some foreign materials may not appear in x-rays. > Read more.

Reynolds CC to host sculptor Paul DiPasquale

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.

Theme for this year’s Dominion GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter announced

The theme for the annual Dominion GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Lakeside has been announced.

This year's event, which opens Nov. 25 and will continue through Jan. 9, will explore "Living Color" and show how the world's kaleidoscope of colors speaks to people, impacts nature and influences culture, according to Garden officials. The event features more than a half million lights, botanical decorations, trains, holiday dinners, family activities and more. > Read more.


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Innsbrook's 7th annual Great Pumpkin Palooza will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The annual Punkin Dunkin competition starts at 11 a.m. Public launchings will begin following the competition with pumpkins available for purchase at the pumpkin patch; proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. There will also be a battle of the bands, costume parades and contests, pumpkin painting, a petting zoo, pony rides, bouncy houses, a rock climbing wall, local vendors and crafters, and more. Admission is free. For details, visit Full text

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