First Networking Event -Tips?

caroline

New Member
Good Afternoon, Everyone!

I have been invited to my first networking event as a business owner. :happydance:It's with BNI (which I know some people aren't crazy about) but I am very excited as someone is paying for the 'date' and it's an opportunity to meet people.

Feelings aside about BNI, anyone have any suggestions or tips? (besides watch for spinach between my teeth ;))

Thanks!

Caorline
 

Lia-VSS

New Member
Hi,
I have submitted an article into TVE [The Virtual Entrepreneur] which is out this weekend I believe which contains an article on first-time networking tips.

However, I have to say the following:-
1. Try to dress smart-casual - although I think that for a BNI you should try to be smart.
2. Try and get to the venue early
3. Prepare your elevation speech [there's a template on here that will help you] and use that to prepare what you're going to say when someone asks about your services etc
4. Relax!
5. Bring Business Cards & Your Pen. You may also bring a small notepad if you wish. Also try and put your Business Cards, pen & notepad in a pocket so you're able to keep all hands free!
6. Know when to stop talking - if someone wants to move on [or is giving you the signs!] Then just say 'it was great to meet you' and move on.
7. Follow-up with all new clients the next day.

I hope I helped you!

Rgds,
Julia
 

caroline

New Member
Thank you Julia! It did help. I think I'm nervous because it's luncheon (real food at a real restaurant) and not a quick meet and greet with just snacks, etc. So I'm also thinking about noise control, how to create an opportunity to talk to members one on one (the nice thing about BNI is that I know what the members do - so I can talk a little later to them about pain points, their industry, etc).
 

Davina

New Member
Great tips Julia! - I will also take these tips to heart
I went to a business networking event recently and got a client that I did not expect.
The key was to stay visible and do not talk too long to one person. Also, keep the smile on your face, sound natural with your speech and have charisma.

Good luck!
Davina
 

Melissa

New Member
I too found that visiting a BNI was helpful in that I was able to meet new people and begin to make those connections in the community.
 

caroline

New Member
Thanks, Melissa. I know their philosophy of things don't go over well with everyone (kind of like the back and forth about Chambers of Commerce). But someone who I know personally who actually cares about seeing my business take off suggested it. She knows I am not working and not even getting unemployment until December, and is paying for my expenses (the lunch is $13.00 but still....) I am so excited I truly don't know what to do with myself.... Thank God I have a few days to come to my senses and pull it together ;)
 

caroline

New Member
Thanks for the well wishes and tips, Davina! And yes, while I know the most important is to let the potential client talk about themselves and not hover, I would be VERY happy if I got a client (or two ;))

And congrats on the client!

Caroline
 

Melissa

New Member
The best advice I can give you is to be prepared with business cards and to say a little something about your business. It is also a good idea to come up with something like "A good lead for me today would be ...." and get specific on the type of client that would be perfect for your services. Good luck!!
 

caroline

New Member
YES! My contact actually told me that... you know the funny things is, she's been with BNI for a while now, and she told me this back in July when we attend a mutual friend's birthday party, so I kind of have the gist of how it works.

But thanks for the confirmation ;)

Caroline
 

kathiemt

New Member
I was a member with BNI for over 5 years. Great organisation and worth being involved. When you arrive the Visitor Host should introduce themselves and ask your name and ask for 2 business cards. One they will give to the President who will introduce you to the rest of the group during the meeting and the other one the VH will use to maintain communication with you later on.

You may be invited to put a number of cards in their business card box as it does the rounds - it should go around twice. Once to put cards in, a second time to take cards out of people you're interested in.

Everyone at the meeting will do an infomercial of between 30-60 seconds, depending on the size of the group. Watch and listen to what they do and then repeat the process when it's your turn. Visitors usually go last.

You'll need to introduce yourself (name and business name), possibly location, a brief outline of what you do and then what your ideal client looks like. Or perhaps the type of service you'd like to provide.

Be prepared to hang around after the meeting to speak one-on-one with anyone interested.

Meetings usually go for around 90 mins.

Enjoy the process, be prepared to meet people and even ask for work to be done by anyone there that appeals to you, i.e. printer, insurance broker, mortgage broker, florist, etc.

It's all about 'Givers Gain'. If you're seen as giving out referrals to others then they will do the same for you.

If you join BNI be prepared to give it a good 6 months before it really sinks in what you do. Some are quicker on the uptake but not all.

I was known as the Queen of Referrals in all the chapters I belonged to because I sourced all my clients needs through BNI.
 

caroline

New Member
Great, great info Kathie. I will definintely take it to heart as I'm preparing myself.

And thanks everyone for your thoughts and comments - I still don't even have business cards or worse yet a website (I know I know) so heads -up: I might be a pest this weekend ;) The meeting's on Wednesday, so I have a lot of ground to cover.
 

Kim Dixon

New Member
First off congrats! and I wish you luck on your networking event. Secondly, forgive me in advance, but might I ask whats BNI? I did a quick search but couldn't find any information. Please enlighten me? Thanks:confused:
 

caroline

New Member
That's my fault Kim: I assumed (erroneously) that everyone knew who there were and for that, I am sorry.

BNI stands for Business Network International. www.bni.com.

I don't know all of the intimate details as someone I know personally is already a member invited me, because she wants to help me get my business off the ground.

Because word of mouth referrals gives the highest returns for businesses, the idea is you go to a meet and greet, give a 60 second introduction about yourself and your business. You then ask for referals or business (something like "A good lead or referal for me would be.....) The idea is building relationships with people - you're more likely to refer someone you know. You get everyone's card.

The advantage of that with BNI is the business card swap, that way you pay it forward - say i don't do bankrupcty paralegal work (I worked for PATENT firms) but YOU do - I can say "I know someone I highly recommend. Her name is Kim. Here's her card"

I think maybe one of the most difficult things I had to accept about owning a business is that you NEVER stop marketing your business, which means you're always ON, if you know what I mean. So this could really be good for me or anyone who does it. If you read Kathie's notes, she really had a system with them.

Hope that helps!

Carolline
 

Kim Dixon

New Member
Thanks Carolline! That's one of the reason I love the board you learn something new everyday! I'm going to check the site out now! Thanks again.

Kim
 
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