By Dean Lindsay
You can and should open relationships everywhere. 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.
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.
It is best not to consider joining any business organizations unless you are committed to being an active member for at least one year. This stuff takes time.
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.
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. Start your own networking group. There are plenty of places that offer networking possibilities. What follows is by no means a complete list, but these suggestions can lead to other opportunities.
16 Examples of Proven Places to Network:
- 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.
- Professional and 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 usually the best organizations for gaining fresh insight into your industry, your clients, 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 publications, 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 new 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 used in your industry.
- 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 draw participants 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 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.
- 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.
- Chamber of Commerce
They don’t call them Chambers of Commerce for nothing. More than likely, your community’s Chamber of Commerce is in the position to serve as your greatest local establishment for making priceless business relationships, 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.
- Organizations with the Same Philosophy as Yours
If you care about the purpose of the organization, you will be proud to be a member and reap personal satisfaction , along with the opportunity to build relationships. Get involved in a charity that feels right.
- Small Business Development Centers – SBDC
Most metropolitan areas have a couple of SBDCs. Whether you have your own business or are an employee, these business centers offer courses and resources to help you to grow, as well as to meet people.
Join groups that offer possibilities for making contacts and achieving personal growth: art appreciation, dancing, chess, astronomy, wine and food clubs, etc. You will meet others with similar interests who are ready to network. Go to meetings that feature discussions on a topic you’re interested in.
More in next post… stay tuned… Be Progress.
With over sixteen years experience in the sales and marketing field, Dean Lindsay is hailed as a ‘Outstanding Thought Leader on Building Priceless Business Relationships’ by Sales and Marketing Association International as well as a ‘Sales-and-Networking Guru’ by the Dallas Business Journal.
His books, THE PROGRESS CHALLENGE and CRACKING THE NETWORKING CODE have sold well over 100,000 copies worldwide and have been translated into Chinese, Polish and Greek, Korean, Spanish and Greek (without his permission). His thoughts on business development through PROGRESS based sales and marketing have been endorsed by a who’s who of international business thought leaders including Ken Blanchard (author of THE ONE MINUTE MANAGER, Gary Keller (co founder of Keller Williams), Sales Training legend Bryan Tracy and the author/father of Guerilla Marketing, Jay Conrad Levinson. In fact, Mr. Levinson thought so much of Dean’s thoughts on Dean’s CODE book, that he wrote the foreword to the book.
Dean has been a featured contributor to Training Magazine Europe, Executive Travel, Sales and Service Excellence, LabX Media, and the American Management Association’s Moving Ahead magazine as well as audio magazine Selling Power Live hosted by Jeffrey Gitomer.
Dean Lindsay is a cum laude graduate of the University of North Texas and has served as Guest Lecturer to UCLA and University of Dallas MBA programs as well as the International Call Management Institute. He has had the privilege of sharing his sales and marketing insights from the big stage in several countries including: Spain, Turkey, Poland, Ecuador, Mexico, Canada, Switzerland, Venezuela, Sweden and the islands of Aruba and Jamaica.
Some of his clients over the last sixteen years include: American Airlines, Marriott, Heinz, Hilton, American Express, Western Union, Verizon, Amway, Nestle, Gold’s Gym, ConocoPhillips, Hagger Clothing and the list goes on.
Dean is also an award-winning songwriter, as well as a founding member of the Texas Shakespeare Festival, and an alumni of Up With People, the 50 year old legendry education organization whose stated mission is to bridge cultural barriers and create global understanding through service and a musical show. His cast was the first to perform in the Soviet Union. And he played one of the ‘bad guys’ in the Warner Brothers’ blockbuster TWISTER. Dean urges you to not look to hard for him in the film however sharing that ‘the flying cow ended up with a big part than I did.”
Dean@DeanLindsay.com – 214-457-5656
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