A new decade has begun and millions of dollars are to be made this coming year. The beginning of the year is an extremely profitable time for many businesses. Are you in position to capitalize?
Resolutions are being made, budgets are being set, people have a new sense of focus; unfortunately this is only a short lived influx of business for most industries. By now you have already set up your goals, as well as action plans on attaining them, and I am sure networking your business is on the horizon.
There are many, many events going on everyday all over the country, but which acronym do you choose? FNI, BNI, NPI, REN, CABA, NY4S, TWBA, TBREIA, PRO, TBTF, GTAR, the list goes on and on. There are Chambers of Commerce, Rotary’s, Kiwanis, and dozens of other professional organizations all over the place.
You ask yourself, what events are going to be the best use of my time? Do I go to a seat specific event or one open to my competition too? Do I pay to be apart to be a part of an organization or should I find free events? Should if find something targeted to my industry or just hit the masses? Are evening mixer events the best or do professional sit down meetings work better?
How do I network my business effectively when there are all these variables?!?
All necessary questions, each with an answer personal to you and your business.
Here are 5 tips in getting them answered:
1. The acronym, the organization, none of that matters. The only thing that matters are the people you meet. Do you like these people? Are they the type of people you want to associate with? Can you see yourself building relationships? Remember you are the cumulative amount of the 5 people you spend the most time with so choose your associations wisely.
2. Attending events that are open to all or just one person per industry is going to be your call. I personally rather attend an open meeting. You may want to meet someone in a specific industry and if you are at a one person per industry group what happens if you don’t care for person who fills that seat? I would rather meet a variety of people, build relationships with those I choose, and learn from my competition if the opportunity arises.
3. There are lots of events that are free out there, and many others that will cost you a few dollars. What you need to determine is: How many sales will I need to make to earn this investment back? What is my expected commitment? What am I really getting for my money? To be required to pay hundreds of dollars to someone just to have the opportunity to meet people I feel is a little self serving. Business networking is about helping others achieve their goals with minimal expense. If the cost to join a group is more than the groups cost to run itself it may not be the best place for you. Now if you are targeting a much higher end prospect, then there may certainly be some investment required. Again this is all your preference.
4. Going to traditional sit down business networking events, or after hour mixers all really depends on your personality and objective. If you do better in a crowd then a mixer will be the best place for you. Many people feel more comfortable in a controlled environment when they can see and hear what everyone does and pick and choose who specifically they want to meet.
5. Attending expos and trainings are phenomenal places to network. They will have a small cost to them, but you will be getting your return on investment with simply the information you receive. You will have the opportunity to learn about a specific topic which should help you further yourself in your business, and best of all you will be surrounded by other like minded people who you will have an immediate rapport with just for the fact that like minded people can connect easier with people who are like them.
Business networking is more important than ever before. The one key that runs true for all of these events and choices you make is you must be willing to build relationships. Remember not all relationships will lead to business immediately, but in the long run you and your business will be in a better place because of the friendships you have developed.
Happy networking to you in this wonderful 2010!
photo credit: tolomea