Networking 101

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I attended a Networking Event at the Palm Desert Area Chamber. The luncheon is called Profit Connections and meets twice monthly at the chamber office. Whenever I attend these events, especially for the first time, I am always a little apprehensive about approaching people. Since these types of events can be a little cliquish, I always wonder if I will be approached by anyone or introduced to anyone. I have no problem introducing myself but I think it is important to make new people feel welcome to an established group.

I really had nothing to worry about as I was immediately approached by Debbie Frazer (Mary Kay). She took me around the room and introduced me to most everyone in the room. She talked about the business I represent, Stan Mroz CPA, as if she had known me her entire life. It was very welcoming and I really enjoyed meeting all of the business owners and representatives.

I met Marv Law of Healthbridge Insurance Solutions. What I liked about Marv , he was genuine and I enjoyed talking with him. He asked about my profession, what I was looking for in joining this group and general questions about me. It was refreshing to meet someone who seemed to care about my thoughts and motivations.

He was then introduced to start the meeting and he spoke about the topic of exactly how to network in a room full of people “selling” and no one is “buying”. He was absolutely correct; we are all selling ourselves and our businesses but no one is there to buy anything. My notions about networking are, I am there to connect with others and attract customers. Maybe I should rethink that approach.

Marv read a list of 10 essentials we should remember when networking with others. The source for these networking tips are Ivan Misner and Lee Abraham from BNI (Business Networking International).

  • How did you get started in your business?
  • What do you enjoy most about what you do? Can you tell me about a recent client that you really enjoyed helping?
  • What separates you and/or your company from the competition?
  • What advice would you give someone starting out in your business?
  • What are the coming trends in your business or industry?
  • What strategies have you found to be the most effective in promoting your business?
  • If there was anything about your business or industry that you could change what would it be?
  • What is the next big event coming up for you?
  • What is your biggest challenge at this time?
  • What type of customers are you looking for? How will I recognize a good prospect for you?

The key is to keep the other person engaged by talking about their business. He encouraged us to remember, a good networking exchange is learning all you can about the other person. After all, they might just become your next customer. Also, the value of being a good listener is key for any business person.

I know many business owners who joined a chamber of commerce or a similar group but never attended any functions. This is like throwing your money out of a window. You must attend events and establish a face for your business. If people remember you they are more likely to call you when they need services. It is a fact, people like doing business with people they know and like.

This got me thinking, the reason I network is not just to increase our customer base, it is also to establish a wide network of businesses to which I can refer our clients who might be looking for a professional in another industry. Recalling the list that Marv introduced, can help all of us become better business listeners.

Dana Cox, Marketing Director
Stan Morz, CPA
(760) 340-1945

Dana is also a partner in Stewart Cox Consulting LLC.