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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.


Community

MADD walk raises more than $26,000

The Central Virginia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosted its annual Walk Like MADD fundraiser April 12 at Dorey Park in Varina. More than 20 teams of walkers raised money from individual donors by participating in the walk, and in total the event generated more than $26,000 in donations for the organization. > Read more.

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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