Proven Places to Network & Build Priceless Business Relationships (Part One)

Free Sales Tips

from  Business Keynote Speaker Dean Lindsay

Author of The Progress Challenge and

Cracking the Networking CODE


In these tough economic times, priceless business relationships are VITAL!  We should consider opening relationships everywhere we go.  On Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.  On Golden Pond and even on the Bridge on the River Kwai.  (Sorry, I got carried away and my movie references got a tad silly.)  Anyway, you get the point.  Relationships are important and start by connecting with others. 
To make connecting easier and more focused, look for groups and events where “networking” is encouraged.  People expect to exchange cards and meet new people at these types of gatherings, so go expecting to make some contacts. 
However watch out…too many people go to business networking events with the wrong focus and try to force their service down your throat.  If you are not on the top of your game, you will end up stoically listening to a bunch of pitches instead of getting the person to have a real conversation. 
It is best not to consider joining any business organizations unless you are committed to being an active member for at least one year, building priceless business relationsips takes time.
Also, it is possible to spend a bunch of dinero on joining networking groups, so consider your affiliations carefully.  Call and ask if you can attend as a visitor.  Most allow at least one free visit. 
Again, you SHOULD network everywhere and anywhere.  There are plenty of places that offer networking possibilities.  ALSO…consider START your own networking group. What follows is by no means a complete list, but these suggestions can lead to other opportunities.  Here are the first five of 16 proven places to network.  More to follow in upcoming posts.
5 Proven Places to Network:
1.  Organizations to Which You Already Belong 
The first place to start networking is in the organizations you already belong to.  Anywhere you are already connected: your homeowners’ association, office parties, Sunday school class, PTA, workout club, sports groups, political party meetings, Junior League.  Anywhere. 
2.  Professional Trade Associations  
Your professional trade association can put you in touch with colleagues in your field.  Cultivate relationships with other members, tap into their expertise, discuss industry concerns, and swap ideas.  These are the best organizations for learning about your industry, your customers, and your competition.
Check out your membership directory to find experts in the profession.  Contact them for advice or ideas.  The sooner you get involved in your trade association, the sooner your name will get out there.  Serve on committees, contribute articles to the group’s publication, speak at conferences, run for the board.  Learn and practice new skills at educational seminars.  You can learn how to use emerging technologies and catch up on the techniques.  Read the association’s newsletter for tips on how to succeed and use the full benefits of membership.  Contact supplier members.  They can tell you about new products and services in your industry.
3.  State and National Trade Shows, Conventions, and Conferences
Business and industry trade shows, conventions, and conferences have great potential as really solid places to network.  However, a bewildering number of people never take advantage of these solid opportunities even when they go, because they treat the trip as a much deserved paid vacation instead of one of the best spots in the cosmos to make new contacts.  This is not the place to let your hair down and get your groove on.     
Some of the big trade shows bring in buyers and sellers from around the globe.  So much potential!  At breakfast, lunch, dinner, and networking activities, meet as many people as possible, get their cards and stay in touch.  Study the schedule and ask the organizers for a list of attendees before you go.  Formulate a plan to make it a valuable investment of time and money.  (See pages 73-76 of Cracking the Networking CODE for tips on running a successful trade show booth.)
At conventions, try contacting keynoters and concurrent-session presenters ahead of time.  Most often we speakers are from out of town and do not know anyone, so invite us to sit with you during lunch, or schedule time for a cup of coffee.  At least introduce yourself to the presenters and those sitting around you. 
4.  Trade Organizations of Your Best Customers
If the fine people who already use your services belong to these organizations, would it not be safe to assume that other members might want to use your services as well?  See if you can present a breakout session or seminar on something related to your work.
5.  Chamber of Commerce
They don’t call them Chambers of Commerce for nothing.  More than likely, your Chamber of Commerce is your best local networking source, but only if you’re active and informed.  Most Chambers welcome guests at functions but are usually only interested in recommending their members.  The upside is that you can join as a business or as an individual. 
Chambers sponsor networking activities like after-hours mixers, business-networking breakfasts, luncheons, and even leads groups.  Chamber events are great forums for sharpening your skills and opening face-to-face relationships. 
More to come.
Be Progress.


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