Networking is more than meeting people; it's about learning, experiencing new places and opportunities. Above all it's about BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP!
Yes, when networking you definitely want to meet new people, learn who they are and what they do as well as share the same about you. But many miss out on the networking opportunities experienced by participating at new places, events and activities.
The more people you meet, places you visit, participate with, organize, learn about, or create allows you to become that go-to-person.. It keeps the dialogue open between you and your connections...
I don't know, but 'Bob' does... let's call him!
Now, that person you met three months ago who you have had no communication with since then, is suddenly thinking about you because they know you have the answer. They pick up the phone and call you to get the answer they are seeking - this in turn, opens the door to other conversations, building a relationship and voila -- new business.
Networking, is not sticking a card in someone's face, talking about yourself and walking away. That person you just did this too, won't remember you, probably won't keep your card and may not have a high opinion of you after this type of encounter.
Listen! Ask questions! Build a relationship!
Introduce yourself, yes! Do it in a manner that engages the person you are talking about to tell you about them. Listen carefully, ask questions about what they are telling you. Somewhere in this conversation, you will probably find you have something in common. Build on this! Create a memorable experience for this new connection for you and for them.
How many times have you met someone at an event, handed them your card, didn't get theirs and later, because you weren't really listening, realized you really do want to know more about this person's business, products and services - and you can barely recall the conversation?
Why? Because you weren't really listening. You were on a mission to hand out your card - nothing else mattered. OOPS!So why am I talking about this?
Well, it just so happens, I operate a weekly networking event called Clients and Cocktails networking. Yes, it is a small group (some weeks only 4, other weeks 20). And yes, every person who comes out is there to meet new people and let them know about their business as well. However, we are more than that!
Clients and Cocktails Networking is about exposing people to new people, places and events.
We meet every week - Friday afternoons to be exact from 3:30 - 6:00 pm (or so). There's no membership fee and no requirement to attend each week or for the whole time frame - drop in anytime. There's also no exclusivity - everyone is welcome. The difference is, we are at a different location in Niagara each and every week.... Exposing our members to a new restaurant, pub or as in yesterday's meeting, a new activity (more on that further down).
Since 2014 we visited more than 125 places in Niagara. Some of which our members had no idea existed, or had always wanted to try, but had never made it out to. Some are popular, some not so much but have great food, scenery, atmosphere - you get the picture.
So what do we do each week?
We build relationships!
You don't get to stand up and give your elevator pitch. You do get to sit down and have a conversation and meet everyone. Somewhere in all of this, we will learn what you do, but more importantly, we will learn what makes you tick!
Quite often we discuss ways to grow each others' businesses. Other times we discuss what is happening in the community. Or we hear of a business that is struggling - we do what we can to promote it through our network. Sometimes we talk about hidden keys in key fobs (you had to be there). Because we get to know you, we are confident in recommending you to our connections. We have a facebook group with lively conversations, introductions and information. It is our go to place when we are looking for a product or service. You too can be part of this group - all you have to do is attend a meeting and we will invite you in! Our little group is found by many new arrivals to Niagara - we help them get a footing and learn the who's who of Niagara and the what, where and when's. We have fun and the best part is -- it's a Friday afternoon, so you can get out of work early and still call it work!
For example: Yesterday (February 3rd), Clients and Cocktails networking had our meeting at the Welland Curling Club. The curling club opened their lounge early for us to meet. Why did we pick the Curling Club this week?
- a couple of our CandC members are curling members;
- The Welland Curling Club was having an open house allowing people to try curling with instructors on hand in the evening
- I'm involved with Canada 150 in Welland celebrations - their next event is tonight at Rink150 in downtown Welland and in partnership with the Welland Curling Club
- Maybe, from those who attended they would get new members - but a minimum a little exposure to the community
First we held our meeting and enjoyed watching the curlers on the ice below us. After myself and another member went down to the ice to learn more about curling and try it ourselves. I found out, I really liked it and could actually do it with a bad knee, bad back, lack of balance etc.) Aha - a new member in the making?
On March 10th, 2017 another new one for us! We'll be visiting Talwood Manor B&B in Port Colborne for Clients and Cocktails - a special meeting that will allow us to learn more about this business and what it offers their visitors. Watch for details.
If you would like to come out to Clients and Cocktails Networking - join Networking in Niagara or follow PRowl Communications on Facebook, or twitter. Better yet - sign up to get the invite each week. The events are always posted on my website as well on the homepage (usually on line by Tuesday each week if not before).