Have you ever gone to a business networking event and wondered, “What on earth am I doing here? How will this help me get more sales???”
In the world of Networking events there are some standard choices: Business Before Hours. Leads Groups. Luncheons. Business After Hours.
There has to be value in an event in order to get attendance (and repeat attendance) organizers hope for. What makes it valuable?
- Meeting the ‘right’ people?
- Meeting ‘new’ people?
- Meeting the ‘same’ people, and strengthening existing relationships?
All of the above can be positives for any business professional. You meet another, listen to what business they are in and what is a good lead for them. Now it’s your turn and you explain your wants and needs in the business world and exchange contact information. Following up with a handwritten note or pleasant email is always suggested, or even suggesting an additional meeting over coffee to discuss things further. This could be your power partner!
In my job with the chamber, we have many different types of opportunities for people to meet. One luncheon is called “Tables of Interest”. Being a progressive luncheon, attendees progress to three tables, meeting more individuals along the way. Table captains facilitate conversation in order to enhance the value of the luncheon. Are they assigned three tables? Not at this one! When registering, you choose three different themes or topics that interest you. Whether it be Books, Wine, Extreme Sports, Grandparents, or even Pinterest, you choose where your interests lie.
We have been challenged, even turned down by other chambers when we’ve invited them to partner with us and make it a multi-chamber lunch. “Personal interests? What does that have to do with business?” or “We want to stick with business topics for our members” we’ve heard. So why, oh why, would we offer such poppycock?
It’s all about RELATIONSHIPS….business relationships. Author Bob Burg insists that people do business with other people they know, like, and trust. If you follow that way of thinking, these sorts of opportunities are just the place to get to know people. Of course, the like and trust part comes with time.
Think outside the box. Business relationships can stem from a rigid, serious, planned meeting. Or they can flow effortlessly from an unexpected moment.