Monday, May 10, 2010

Network Gwinnett: What Networking is All About

Most people think networking is all about collecting as many business cards and meeting as many people as possible at any given business event. This couldn't be farther from the truth according to a few of the Gwinnett Chamber's expert networkers and frequent attendees of the Chamber's signature networking event, Network Gwinnett.

Network Gwinnett is a networking group of Gwinnett Chamber members designed to build relationships, support professional development, and develop lead-generating affiliations. This is the perfect opportunity to work with like-minded professionals who wish to grow their business and their network by meeting new people in new industries.

With a little bit of practice and the right frame of mind, networking can become a fun way to form new relationships and develop professionally and personally while growing your business. Whether you are new to networking or need a refresher course, the following tips will help networking become a successful business tactic for you:

1. Be a good listener. Martin Birkbeck with American Family Insurance says that too many people look at networking as part of the presentation portion of the sales cycle. "Networking is part of the prospecting process. When you are networking you should be prospecting for clients, referral sources, vendors and suppliers," says Martin. "The key to making that process a successful one is to be a good listener. By being a good listener it will help you identify and prequalify the right people to spend time with. Listening also allows you to connect people looking to achieve similar objectives. By actively seeking to connect people you will also be strengthening your role as someone with whom people want to network."

2. Don't approach your introduction as a pitch. Kathy Smart with International Business Academies of Learning says that by telling people what you do most of the time shuts people down right away. Instead, Kathy recommends sharing what you want people to know most about YOU and not WHAT you do but who you are as a person. Kathy says to approach your introduction not as a pitch – people want to buy but don't want to be sold. "By sharing what your customers enjoy about doing business with you will leave the audience wanting more or at least with a clear impression of who you are as a person and what value you offer to a potential customer," says Kathy. "This will open the door for more customers and good referrals in the future."

3. Attend a variety of events to meet a variety of people. Although Network Gwinnett is a great place to start, Ann LaFavor with LaFavor, Etc. recommends attending a variety of Gwinnett Chamber events to give you an advantage over competitors. "Every meeting is an opportunity to get your business increased visibility," says Ann. "For example, a cleaning service may feel the Chamber's Gwinnett Technology Forum isn't for them, but by attending the Tech Forum they will be in the room with up to 100 businesses that more than likely need cleaning services. When you attend the Tech Forum you will meet a different target market other than the ones you interact with at Network Gwinnett."

4. Sometimes less is more. Al Brown with Group, LLC has a memorable analogy to help in networking situations. "Do not act like a DOG, jumping on everyone in the room. Instead, talk and listen to individuals and think about how you might be able to help them. Spend more time talking about their business than yours. Act like a CAT and select a few people to talk with at events. If you go to a meeting with 100 people, plan to talk to only six to eight new people per hour."

5. Be worth recommending. Melanie Morgan with advises to spend much of your networking time learning about others and trying to connect good people together. "At the same time, be worth recommending by always striving to do your best work honorably. This winning combination will grow your business and your life," says Melanie.

Try out these networking tips at Network Gwinnett, held at the Gwinnett Chamber every Thursday from 7:30 am – 9 am and Friday from 10:30 am – noon. Members of the Chamber can expose their business to over 150 businesses each week at no cost.

Each Network Gwinnett meeting begins with a seven-minute presentation from a member. The presentation schedule rotates among members who are active in Network Gwinnett and have attended for at least three months. Ambassadors act as facilitators for the meetings.

After the presentation, each participant will be given the opportunity to introduce him or herself and their business to the group. Depending on the size of the group, introductions range from 20-45 seconds. After the introductions, participants will then state what a good "lead" is for them. After everyone has been introduced, the attendees will then report on how many leads were passed, works in progress and sales closed from the previous week's activities. There is also ample time to meet and greet before and after the meetings.

For information on how Network Gwinnett can help to market your business, contact Gwinnett Chamber Senior Manager of Membership Services, Kim Jones at 770-232-8805 or

No comments:

Post a Comment