August 26, 2016
If you look at this weekly insert in the Anniston Star, you probably read our references to Business After Hours, our monthly evening networking opportunity held the third Tuesday of every month, or Business & Biscuits, our monthly morning networking opportunity held the first Thursday of every month. Many professionals find these “networking” events awkward, shaking hands and exchanging business cards. Networking doesn’t have to be just that. Who is someone you’ve seen in passing more than once? Have you ever introduced yourself to them? Do you make a conscience effort to get to know new people? Do you “meet” people face to face or rely on online connections and “friends.”
People do business with people they know.
The Chamber provides networking opportunities, like Business After Hours, Business and Biscuits and the Business EXPO, because we want to build connections for our members, our businesses and communities. Don’t necessarily go into these meetings with the mentality of what can they do for me, but instead, try to make a new friend. Remember the first day of school? “What do you do for fun?” “Do you have any siblings?” “What’s your favorite food?” Genuine connections can be made, if you try.
Often, if we wholeheartedly listen, new doors could open that we never expected. They share, while we learn and appreciate their story. Listening also has the potential to lay a strong foundation for friendship.
“Sharing is caring.” After you listen, share and make your story memorable. Customers like honesty, trust and meaning. Don’t just share what you think they want to hear because you’ll probably be wrong. Stand out in the networking crowd.
Some are often “afraid” to attend events because they don’t know anyone. Everyone knows someone, so don’t hesitate to ask for introductions or ask a friend to accompany you. Introductions act as referrals, seeing their friend introduce you opens new doors of trust.
Be you; be real. Sometimes, that means sticking your hand out and simply saying your name. Try new events with organizations, like the Chamber, and you never know where the door may lead. Connect, Engage and Prosper!