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Posts Tagged ‘Relationship Marketing’

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.

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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.

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