Use Events to Build Business Connections

Networking events only work if you work them. You may already attend networking events hosted by your local Chamber, jewelers’ group, alumni organization, faith community, or hospital guild. If you go, decide to make yourself approachable. Then set a purpose determined by your current need. Do you need a mentor, such as another small-business owner who can help you consider how to incorporate a star salesperson with a less aggressive staff? Do you need business referrals for clients who might benefit from your appraisal services? Are you hoping existing clients will introduce you to their friends on the hospital board? Or do you simply need to connect with existing friends to be bolstered and encouraged since you’re working short-staffed? The goal you set determines your behavior at the event. If you need new contacts, spend limited time with friends. If you need time with friends, don’t berate yourself if you don’t make new contacts.

Before the Event

  1. Decide on your purpose for attending.

  2. Determine the number of people you need to speak with to reach your goal. For meeting a client’s friends, your goal may be three people in an evening. For bolstering your appraisals business, you may need to distribute your card to 15 individuals.

  3. Take enough business cards for twice as many people as you wish to speak to.

  4. If you want to connect with a potential mentor or reconnect with existing contacts, e-mail or call before the event to ask if you might seek them out.

At the Event

  1. Arrive in time to visit with other guests prior to any presentation.

  2. Make yourself approachable by wearing a nametag. Print your first and last name in large letters. Wear the tag on your upper right shoulder to take advantage of customary reading flow. The intent is to help people know who you are and save them embarrassment if they recognize you but can’t recall your name.

  3. Introduce yourself as you planned. Consider an introduction such as, “Hi, I’m Sheri Stout. My company is Stout Spectacular Gems and I’ve been a member of this group for two years. May I ask your name?”

  4. Meet both your goals by putting your business card in the hands of those to whom you introduce yourself and asking for their business card in return.

  5. Be visible. If there is an opportunity to make another person comfortable, help the hosts, thank a volunteer, or speak during a question and answer session, do so.

After the Event

  1. Thank the hosts and speaker.

  2. Thank new people you met for the connetion via card, phone, or e-mail. Include some aspect of the conversation as you both were involved in it, such as “I enjoyed talking with you about your trip to Tucson and hearing that you found some new gemstones for your custom business,” not just “nice to meet you.”

  3. Look for and renew these contacts at the next networking event to reinforce the connection.