The Entrepreneur’s Corner

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.
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Henrico Business Bulletin Board

September 2017
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River City Jazz will perform at 7 p.m. at the Henrico Theatre in Highland Springs. This 20-piece big band explores everything from standard jazz and big band to Latin, rock and more contemporary styles. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at http://www.henricolive.com. Full text

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