Communication Made Easy — Speaking, Editing, Writing, Marketing, Networking Answers

A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but words themselves are at the basis of all communication. Whether we are communicating for business or personal reasons, our spoken and written words matter. These posts will address issues and answer questions related primarily to business communications, as they affect writing, credibility, marketing, and networking.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Networking 101


"None of us knows as much as all of us,
and I know a lot of people."
Charles Morton

You've probably never heard of Charles Morton — but he's right. It's the collective knowledge that makes us powerful. And that is precise reason networking is so important to any small business owner or entrepreneur. We've all attended our share of networking events. Some of us do it with more consistency than others. The problem is that even with lots of practice, we don't always get as much out of our networking expenditures (time, money, energy) as we could or should.

My women's networking group, Scottsdale Express Network, set out to correct that yesterday when we hosted a 4-hour workshop called Networking 101.

The interesting thing was that only 20 people showed up. More people had paid, but didn't get there for some reason. Others had known about it, but evidently had more important priorities. With an inkling from our pre-registration that our turnout could be low, we thought about cancelling the event. However, Vickie Champion, a great mentor of mine (and attendee of the workshop) taught me a long time ago the value of not forcing things. "Would you do it, even if no one came?" she used to ask her students to ask themselves — the message being that we need always to remember that no matter what we're doing, it is about the process, and we have to detach from the outcome.
So, since I knew that we would definitely have some attendees, even if it was not as many as I had originally envisioned, I knew we would go through with the event — if for no other reason than that the people who needed to be there would be there. And they were. There also was great food; new connections were made; and lots of brilliant information was shared.

We had three excellent presenters who each talked about different aspects of networking. At the end of each presentation, I went around the room and asked someone from each table to state their main take-away from that presenter. What follows is a synthesis of those take-aways:

Tammy Stanley — Have both a 30-second and a 10-second intro. And know that it takes longer than 30 seconds to craft these intros. Remember to do something interesting. No one else at the meetings you attend is likely to do anything all that memorable, so why not you? Go for the gold! The worst thing that could happen is that you flop. But what if you land a perfect 10? Isn't the chance to succeed beyond your wildest dreams worth that shot?
Chip Lambert — First, we need to know what we want — for our businesses, and for our lives. Next, we must realize that everything we want or need is, at most, 3 questions away from us. The key is knowing what to ask, whom to ask it of, and then being unafraid to do the ASKING!

Susan Ratliff — Whenever you go out to network, go prepared. Use your attendance at trade shows as a networking opportunity. And even if you cannot meet or capitalize on all the other attendees at an expo, do something noteworthy to meet and appeal to the vendors at such an event. They are a captive audience, and will appreciate you for making an effort to meet their needs!

Who among us has not played the Business Card Shuffle at one time or another? But that does not have to be your regular networking experience. Set aside a couple hours to hone your 30-second intro. This first requires that you know who you are, whose problems you solve, and how you solve them — and then be able to describe it all succinctly. Make a point to figure out what you want, and who can help you get it. And make yourself memorable, whether it's at a tradeshow or a networking event.

Don't be a wallflower. Be the one people like. Be the one people trust. Be the one people remember. And, most importantly, be the first one they call. You can get in the game or you can sit on the sidelines — the choice is yours, alone.

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