Ok, this post is actually an offshoot of networking. After all that mingling, sometimes a conversation leads to an exchange of cards which leads to getting together in person, often for a lunch meeting.
I was recently at a business lunch with someone I had met before many times but this was the first time we had a considering-doing-business-together meal. After our lunch was served, he looked down and commented that each of us had ordered something we didn’t have to pick up with our hands.
I knew it was a conscious decision on my part, but it was the first time I realized that other business people think the same way. The focus of a business meal should be business. Its not about the food. Order something that can be easily cut and eaten with a fork, won’t make a mess or cause comment. I eat a lot of salad, but at a restaurant, a salad can be hard to manage and are often huge, leaving you still eating when your meal partner is done.
Another key factor of a business meal is paying attention – to the discussion, the proposal, the opportunity – not the eating. I can be a disaster, so I try to avoid sauces, dressing and anything red or it may end up on me.
To manage stress and keep the focus on the conversation the number one thing that has helped me is to choose what I will eat before I get there. Many restaurants have their menu online – look it up and choose your meal. Don’t count on getting the the restaurant first, I’ve thought I was early only to find my dining companion waiting for me. This is especially helpful if you are particular. Once I had a business breakfast and the gentleman I met asked for all sorts of special preparation and then was dissatisfied when the order came. I couldn’t help but think he would be difficult to work with as well.
Going into a business meeting able to politely scan a menu while actually listening to the conversation is one of the best tricks I’ve learned. It is hard enough to meet a stranger in a restaurant, a little planning makes the whole thing much easier and more professional.
Read Full Post »
Having created and hosted my first event, I wanted to give your the early results. It was a small event with 12 attendees. I had planned for 15-20 and there were four last minute cancellations. I was very stressed that the event would be too small, thinking that people would feel it was a waste of their time. I have attended networking events and been disappointed with turnout, I didn’t want people to feel that way at my event.
It didn’t, and here’s why:
- Networking wasn’t the focus. The event had a purpose and an activity, other than passing out cards.
- I didn’t call it networking. I used the word “social” and it felt like a party.
- I had a great room. The studio at Peterson Photography was set up with a couch, coffee table and some small bistro chairs. We spread the food and wine out in three stations so people would gather in small groups and move to get more wine, savory or sweet snacks.
- Small can be an advantage. Everyone who attended commented on how happy they were that it wasn’t big “like a networking thing”.
- Have someone else run the activity. When I have parties at home, I never get to see the guests. Having the main attraction as the portrait photography, the photographer and her assistant managed moving people in and out and I got to mingle.
- Invite some ringers. While my purpose was to meet new prospects, I also invited some colleagues who have become friends. Having a few people I know mixed in made it feel that much more social.
- Follow up. In addition to the new connections I made who already have thought of needs, We will be mailing their pictures along with some information as a secondary, subtle reinforcement. Having met both me and the photographer, they are much more likely to read about or businesses now.
- Lastly, I cold emailed to a list of 1700 people for four weeks and got only about 40 unsubscribes. If I had done the same thing with a newsletter about my company it would have been mass exodus, crossing those prospects off our list forever. I opened communication by offering something of value positioned well for my prospects and they responded by letting me speak to them.
I had three purposes when creating this event: build the image of my firm, get in the room with great prospects, and warm up an audience so I could email regularly about other programs and eventually other news. It has worked very well and we are in full swing promoting next month’s meatier and more expensive program, Social Media Connections, Making Then Work at Work.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Business Development, Business Networking, Networking Help, small group networking, Trends, Uncategorized, tagged Association Networking, Business Development, Business Networking, Conversation, Help with Networking, leadership, Networking Help, Referral Marketing, Relationship Marketing, Self promotion on March 24, 2009 |
Leave a Comment »
My niece started college this year at a large state university. Due to scheduling, she wasn’t able to join the club sport she participated in all through high school. It wasn’t long before she realized that she was having trouble finding a group among the masses and needed to find a way to scale down her experience. As a child she was a swimmer, so she joined the swimming club and has now found a group she can call her own. The huge crowd has been brought down to relationship scale.
When joining a new organization the size can often be overwhelming. Joining – or creating – a small group-within-a-group Is a great stepping stone to one-on-one relationships. Some trends to try:
- Find a club — Affinity clubs help people bond over similar interests. Sharing a favorite activity with a small group is a great way to build contacts and friendships. If your favorite activity isn’t available, start your own.
- Take it online – Online communities are great for addressing special interests. Facebook, LinkedIn and Flickr all have privacy settings that allow only members to see content. Connecting with members online often allows people to stay in touch and learn more about each other faster.
- Bring it offline – Like everywhere else, in online communities people are seeking personal connection. Twitter users are connecting in person with local events called “tweetups”. Search www.search.twitter.com for events in your area. The NHL team the Washington Capitals created a LinkedIn group for fans and then invited them to a game. Read “A Different Look at Networking” to learn more. If you have joined a group and are only participating virtually, attend an in-person meet-up or plan one yourself.
- Get social – Choose a few people you know a little and host a micro-event. Bringing together people you know who don’t know each other is a great way to get to know everyone better. For some great ideas, read 7 Ideas for Small Group Networking.
Sometimes the hardest part is getting to know the first few people. If you meet one person, ask him or her whom else you should know. Get a few of those people together to discuss a topic of common interest, industry trends, or just to meet others and you have a manageable event that is less stressful than a room full of people and more comfortable for some than a one-on-one lunch or meeting.
For people looking to make friends or build business relationships, a small group invitation can help avoid uncomfortable situations, confusion with dating, or worry about having enough to say. Next time you’d like to get to know someone better, invite a few others and see what happens.
Read Full Post »
One of the things I always find fascinating is that people from the same company attend a networking meeting together and stay together the entire time. Many events have a stand-up networking time followed by a seated presentation or meal. If you have come with colleagues — or just chatted with the folks you know during the open networking time, now is the time to change it up. Some tips to to find great networking seats:
- When it is close to time to be seated, find someone new to talk to and then move with them to a seat.
- Scout the tables as people are seating themselves. Look for one that is almost full so you have the most opportunity to meet people.
- If you are more comfortable connecting with your own gender, look for tables that have someone you think you could talk to.
- Think about your best clients – their gender, age, how they dress. It can give you clues to others who may be good prospects. I frequently work with marketing directors and have noticed that they often dress a bit more adventurously than others, so I look for someone in a brighter color, a pattern or fabulous shoes. If I am wrong, it still gives me something to compliment as a conversation opener.
- If there will be a presentation, grab the seat at the back of the table. I recently got stuck in a front seat and had to figure out how to gracefully eat soup while watching the presenter who was behind me. Note to coordinators – think about what you are serving if your presenter will speak during the meal.
- If it is not a meal, and the chairs are set up in rows, find someone to sit with whom you spoke to during open networking.
- Look for others who did not come with colleagues and sit with them.
Networking doesn’t have to end when you sit down. With just a little observation and strategy, the whole event can be more productive.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Association Networking, Business Development, Business Networking, Networking Help, Uncategorized, tagged Business Development, Business Networking, Communication Skills, Conversation, Networking Help, Referral Marketing on December 12, 2008 |
2 Comments »
An interesting thing about business networking, it that if you do it enough you are bound to start running into people you have already met. For some people, this can be a gift to have someone you recognize and feel comfortable approaching, for others it’s frustrating to meet the same people over and over.
Either way of thinking, make the most of the event by taking that relationship to the next level. Jan Kopple had a great suggestion “I find out one new thing about someone I already know”. It is so easy to see someone familiar and chat about the information you already know, or to avoid them in hopes of meeting fresh leads, but it is not really helpful.
I can’t count how many times I have known someone for quite a while before we discovered how we could help each other. To speed up the process, don’t stop at asking for referrals. Take a look at this great list from Hazel Walker of the Networking Strategist Blog:
- You could put an article about my services in your newsletter, I will do the same for you.
- You could invite me to a networking opportunity that you may be going to.
- You could nominate me for an award it would build my credibility
- You could attend an event with me; it would create visibility for both of us.
- You could display my information or products in your office or store.
- You could mention me in your blog.
- You could read my blog and comment, and then link to my blog.
- You could introduce me to your network
- You could write an article for my newsletter
- You could invite your best client to our chapter so I could meet them.
- You could WRITE me a great testimonial that I could used in my materials.
- You could put my brochure or information in your client mailings.
Having some ideas about what you could ask to learn more and get more out of networking makes it much easier to respond. Not everyone will be comfortable recommending a prospect right away, but most people are happy to help in smaller ways to get to know you better.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Business Development, Business Networking, Networking Help, Uncategorized, tagged Business Development, Business Networking, Communication Skills, Help with Networking, joining a group, Referral Marketing, Relationship Marketing on December 4, 2008 |
Leave a Comment »
There is nothing worse than being late to a sit-down event. If you ever had the weight of 30 eyes on you as you walk in to a room full of strangers, you know what I mean.
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of being invited to an exclusive event run by professional speaker, productivity expert and supreme networker, Neen James. It was a morning event downtown at the city club to which I belong. Excellent, I do that drive all the time and know where to park (a stresser in any city) and which back roads to take. Or so I thought.
This meeting started at 8:30 am, an hour later than then many morning networking events I have attended at the Club. I live and work a mile and a half apart in the suburbs, so I am not a seasoned commuter. Apparently, you can’t use 7:30 traffic as a guide for all rush hour traffic. To make matters worse, one reliable back road had a car accident, and it was trash day in the city – which I discovered when the trash truck trapped me two car lengths from where I had to turn into the garage.
Of course I wanted to turn around and forget it once I realized I was going to be embarrassingly late, but I did not want the hostess to regret inviting me. The challenge on a day like this is how to put the stress and embarrassment behind you and have a productive event. Some tips to get you back on track:
- Take a minute. Take off your coat, check your hair, put on some lipstick (if appropriate) and take a breath. Flying into the room with a flustered apology only calls more attention to yourself.
- Get settled. Scan for a seat, and get situated without fuss. If you think you’ll need a pen or a mint, make it accessible before entering the room.
- Focus. You made it, don’t waste the effort. Turn your attention to the speaker and really pay attention.
- Apologize later. Afterwards, if it was small enough of a gathering for the host to notice, make one sincere apology and limit the excuses.
You can still have a worthwhile networking day even with a bad start. I have three meetings set up already and a number of LinkedIn invites from an event that started badly. Don’t shrink into your shell, shake it off and do what you came for, you’ll be glad you made the effort.
Read Full Post »