Thursday, April 22, 2010

Awkward Moment

Some thoughts from recent networking events.

This is the time of year for BNI's Visitor Extravaganzas. Ever the efficient organization, BNI has a structured approach to helping chapters to gain more members during this time. The members of each chapter focus on inviting a lot of qualified member prospects for one focused day.

I have attended a couple of these within the last couple weeks. Both were very successful. The members should pat themselves on their backs.

Here's something I observed.

It was obvious to me that one visitor was there to sell his stuff. He had even set up a small display to demonstrate. When I chatted with him, he "threw up" all over me about what his new-fangled stuff could do. Additionally, during the sit-down part of the meeting when a formal presentation was being delivered, right in the middle of it, he packed up his stuff and left. My first knee jerk reaction was to judge him. "Stupid networker." But then with a little more thought I realized that perhaps the person who invited him had not told him how the meeting would proceed. Perhaps this gentleman had another appointment. Who knows? What I do know that a room full of people experienced him being rather "out-of-step" with the behavior that was expected from guests. What was their knee-jerk reaction?

This is a good lesson for me. I probably have not been as thoughtful as needed when inviting guests to any networking meeting. From now on I will at least give a brief summary of what will happen so my guest can make a great impression.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ya' Get What Ya' Say

This week I attended two energetic BNI visitor days. I was proud of both chapters for all the work they put into the event to create the forum for success. What really surprised me was a comment that I received at the end of one of the events.

I complimented a member about how well they had done. The comment back to me was that, "Yeah, maybe we'll get a couple new members from this. We have a real comfortable group already."

Now mind you, the membership committee already had 7 applications in hand just several minutes after the event ended and several more were being completed.

If I read between the lines, I suspect that the member's comment was a nice way of saying, "I really don't want any new members, because that would put me out of my cozy little cocoon."

What it also says to me is that this person is probably a little lazy. This person doesn't want to have to extend the effort to develop new relationships. This person, probably is a marginal member too, giving just enough to stay beneath the radar.

And that is purely supposition.

But that's my take and I'm stickin' to it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Trade Show Success

With the Women's Entrepreneurial Network's April 26 annual trade show just ahead, the question we should be asking is "How can I best use my networking skills to make the best of the offering?" As an exhibitor we want to plan for success.

Many business people blindly fork over hard earned cash for booth space without a thought about what they want to achieve as a result of both the financial and time outlay.

Set a goal for what you want to achieve. As we learned with the Certified Networker training, the more specific you can be the better. So for example say, "I want to schedule four appointments with possible prospects as a result of this day-long event," instead of just, "I want to get more business."

Publish those goals! Create a sign for your booth that will let everyone know what you are attempting. Then each person will be able to read your message and might be able to help.

Invite people from your networks. This might be the easiest way to get prospects to see you in action. Also, since the WEN trade show is free to attend, it can be a good way to reward referral sources.

Create your follow-up system before the event. Timely connections will mean all the difference between success and the waste of time. If you are going to send everyone who came to your booth a postcard, you'll need to have that piece ready before the event. will allow you to create a card that you can then send later. Check with Certified Networkers Sharon Czarny or Kris Downey to see how it can be done.

Have something that bring people to your booth, but also be able to qualify prospects. Certified Networker, David Trisel, graf-X-cape, limited his expensive giveaways at a recent show by having people play a game at his booth. It also gave him a longer time to talk with them while they were trying to be a winner.

Ask for business card of the people you want to talk to later. Being selective means fewer contacts to follow up with. The time you do spend with the ones you want will be time well spent.

Know the types of people your other booth neighbors want to meet. When someone is not right for you, you may be able to walk the person to someone else.

See ya' on the 26th. Come wee what my goals are!