Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Organized Networking

Monday of this week, was the monthly, lunch-time networking meeting for the Women's Entrepreneurial Network A.K.A. WEN. I have been a member of WEN for over 12 years, but this meeting blew me away.

Let me set the scene. Over 100 people attended. The meeting starts at 11:30 and ends 90 miutes later. At the meeting there is a buffet lunch, a short educational presentation, casual networking and each person gets an opportunity to stand and give a 20 second introduction. Do the math. How in the world did we get done on time?

The two leaders of WEN, Linda Everhardt Kardux and Linda Lucas Fayerweather have all of us very well trained. Linda EK always announces that she needs to hear three things from each of us; 1) our name, 2) our company or who we represent and 3) how the rest of the group can help us. Focused, no fluff. Linda also rules with her trusty electronic timer. When we hear the beep-beep-beep, it is time to sit down and shut up! How can 20 seconds be productive? One reason is that members and guests take notes as each person is giving their commercial. At the end they can connect with those who were of interest.

At the conclusion of the formal meeting my guest, Penny Brubaker, who is a water treatment specialist for Culligan of Nothwest Ohio, had several people approach her wanting to meet her. They weren't selling to her, but trying to figure out how they each can help the other. That is the tone at a WEN meeting, and I'm darn proud of it. Networking can have such a negative reputation when it is confused with selling, but the WEN women (and men) know what it's all about.

What groups do you belong to that provide a platform for efficient networking?


Greg Peters said...
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Greg Peters said...

Great post!

This reminds me a bit of the Ann Arbor Chamber's "Networks!" monthly meetings. They have a similar format except that, instead of twenty seconds, you are allotted ten words (in addition to your name and company name). It's a true challenge to boil down what you do into only ten words -- even harder to do it in a way which will catch the attention of those around you. Try it sometime!