Networking is something every business owner should and must do. The old saying that people do business with people they know is still true and networking is a great way to meet people.
However, all networking events are not created equal.
I remember leaving a few and saying to myself, “well that was a complete waste of time and gas.” I know Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, in his book Delivering Happiness says we should get to know people for the sake of knowing people. How we can benefit their business and vice versa is secondary. People he met in casual settings eventually worked with him professionally even if it was years later. I know this is the right thing to do but it’s hard to implement when you have sales goals to meet. You want to meet the right people and spend your time wisely.
That’s why I was impressed with a networking event The Houston Business Journal (HBJ) hosted last year. This was power networking.
There comes a time when businesses want to get the attention of those in the media and the first thing we do is write up a press release and blast it out to every news outlet in the city. Some business will use a PR distribution service but most will harass, spam, flood reporter’s inbox with the same release. This has resulted in some companies being blacklisted.
That’s why the networking event by HBJ was so impressive. The HBJ editor and reporters were all there and you could meet with them and ask them what they were looking for. You could make connections, hopefully make a favorable impression and walk away with someone you could build a professional relationship with. Everyone who attended that event knew exactly what would grab the attention of this news outlet.
Here are few networking opportunities you may not have considered:
Classes and workshops – These are great opportunities because not only do you learn something vital to your business or for personal improvement, you meet people like yourself who are also interested in learning. If you’re brave you can introduce yourself to the speaker and begin building a relationship with an expert. You’d be surprised at how welcoming some can be.
Company sponsored events – When I worked a nine-to-five, a few vendors threw customer appreciation parties. From what I’ve read, Zappos throws amazing customer appreciation parties. These parties can connect you to some pretty awesome people in a non-threatening environment. Living in Houston means access to crawfish and I love it when companies host crawfish boils! There’s nothing like meeting someone new over a tray of crawfish, corn and potatoes. You can’t help but bond.
Conferences – If you don’t mind crowds, conferences are definitely a great way to meet new people and build existing relationships. Tory Johnson’s Spark and Hustle Tour will more than likely come to a city near you and you should go! You’ll meet some awesome women and hear great presentations from inspiring women.
If you’re going to network, power network! Position yourself to create mutually beneficial business relationships.