Networking is an invaluable tool. When done effectively it can be your best form of marketing. Of course, it is also affordable. The purpose of networking can vary based on your own agenda, yet the primary focus is to meet people and have people meet you and learn about your business.
To make the most of your networking, here are a few tips:
•Arrive with a goal in mind. Before the event, set a goal for yourself and then achieve it, i.e. meet 1-2 potential clients.
•Make sure you have plenty of business cards, however, be sure not to deal them out like playing cards. Plan to exchange information with potential clients or resources or someone you have had a meaningful conversation with.
•It is easier to be approached by others if you don't appear to be busy with idle conversation. Spread your wings; try to avoid huddling up with colleagues.
•Don't hard sell yourself or your company. Networking meetings are often meant to be social and relaxed. Focus on asking questions about the person and their business in order to learn how and if you and your business fit into the picture.
•Don't be a spectator. Approach people you don't know and introduce yourself.
Now you have some tips to put to work at a few of the Chamber's upcoming events. Please join us a our May Business After Hours will be held at Tallulah Wine Bar & Bistro from 5:30-7 p.m. on May 19. Tallulah Wine Bar & Bistro is located at 155 S. Bates St. in Birmingham. Register at www.bbcc.com or call (248) 644-1700, $10 Members, $20 Nonmembers. Prices increase by $10 at the door.
After attending a networking event it is essential to follow up with folks you met in a timely fashion. If someone was interested in your business, don't hesitate to drop them a line and be sure to be responsive if they connect with you first. It's important to be consistent in order for your networking efforts to be truly fruitful.
For more networking events and programs visit www.bbcc.com.
Carrie Zarotney is president of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber.