Local Area Network
LOCAL AREA NETWORK
No matter what you business is, what you do or where you live, at some point you need to get out of your house, your work zone, your confort zome and meet new people.
Making new business connections and networking is a great way to get referrals, meet business partners, clients, customers, collaborate on projects and to share knowledge.
In one of my previous posts, I touched on using social media to connect locally, without the use of the Yellow Pages. That method works great and I’ve met some great new, local people. However, nothing beats a hand shake or a smile and the exchange of business cards in a face-to-face meeting.
If you are new to town, or if you are new to your business here are some great ways to network:
- Join the local Chamber of Commerce. The Chambers charge a fee, and in return they will give you a list of members with contact information. They also will host events and you are able to network during all of those events.
- Join the Rotary or Lions. Again, these options are great to network, however, they are not free. Try to get introduced by a friend first, to see if you fit into the group, before paying the membership fee.
- Search MeetUp.com for local groups. Some of these groups might be networking groups, business connections group and you can usually join without a fee. Some MeetUp.com groups do charge a fee or are a closed group and you’ll need to submit a request to join. Each group’s description will list how many members the group has and how many meetings the group has hosted, as well as when the next meeting is planned.
- Your local Costco may host a monthly small business networking group. Ours usually has 40+ attendants and we share our business cards and each get 1 minute to do an ‘elevator pitch’. At the end of the meeting, based on their pitch, I know with whom I’d like to talk.
- One of my local LinkedIn groups, hosts a monthly Happy Hour meeting in local restaurants. They get anywhere from 10 – 30 people to show up and meet, greet, talk and exchange cards. Once again, this is free.
- Join an International Club (I am Dutch; I would join the Dutch Club is there was one in my town), an Alumni Club (university, high school, sorority/fraternity), or Cause Group (Toys For Tots, Miracle League)
- Volunteer your time to a great organization! I’ve never made a friend so fast in a new town as I went to volunteer at the local food bank, Special Olympics or a local charity.
- Look for upcoming local events and fairs in your town by monitoring the paper, the news stations and the on-line magazines. Go to local events to meet like minded business men and women.
- Start your own networking group! Start a group on LinkedIn and set up a time for all members to meet. Go to MeetUp.com and start a group. If you hold workshops or seminars, invite people to connect during the meeting and form a group that way.
Once you have found some places to connect, please remember the following:
- Bring plenty of business cards to hand out.
- Be courteous and greet everyone, not those you already know.
- State your name clearly and wear a name tag if provided.
- Bring cash to pay for your own drinks and food if needed.
- Dress business casual.
- Ask questions to engage in conversations.
- Don’t monopolize one person. You want to meet everyone.
- Don’t take the spot light from others while they make a speech.
- Bring a friend if possible and introduce them to your circle of friends.
- Offer a tip or information to those who are new to the area or the group.
- Come back to the same group often and keep bringing friends.
As always, we welcome your input! If you have other great ways to connect locally, please let us know by leaving a comment.