Knock, Knock! - Know Who is There at Networking Events - Lunch Groups

Whether you realize it or not you have been to a networking lunch.  Food, lunch time, and more than one person are the requirements for a networking lunch.  Having lunch with a prospect or co-worker is a networking lunch by definition.  But for our conversation we will focus on structured, multi-attendee networking luncheons.

Most networking luncheons attract a wide variety of people from all business categories with one common bond; nearly all will be directly or indirectly responsible for sales at the company they represent.  For this reason the networking lunch takes on a different personality than all other networking events.

Networking luncheons vary from structured events with a formal meal and keynote speaker to a loosely tied together group where everyone brings their own "brown-bag" lunch.  What makes networking luncheons different from networking events at other times during the day (aside from the preponderance of sales people in the room) is the compressed time frame.  Most people who attend networking luncheons have scheduled meetings before and after the lunch and therefore have limited time.

Except for the largest groups, most networking luncheons provide an opportunity for the attendees to give their elevator speech or sixty-second commercial.  Few people who attend networking luncheons are shy since there are many sales related professionals in the room.  You should be prepared to deliver a self-introduction for one-on-one interactions and to the audience that is concise and audience-focused.  You have approximately seven seconds to gain the interest of the listener before he or she mentally turns you off.

One of the best things about networking luncheons is that you will easily meet new people if you want to.  Even if you attend with a co-worker, sit with someone you haven't met.  By the time the lunch is over you will know a lot about your new friend and they will know a lot about you.  This is the beginning of a relationship that will lead to more connections.  You can't help but get to know people when you share a meal with them.

Since most of the people at networking luncheons are in sales, they will have a vast network of connections and it is highly likely that someone in the room will know the person or people you are trying to meet.  Focus on the people you meet and the ways you can help them.  When asked, clearly state the benefits you can offer others and the connections you are seeking.  You can quickly open doors through the relationships you will forge at networking luncheons.

But heed this one word of caution.  Except formal events, a networking luncheon is a relaxed atmosphere. Since there are so many sales people at networking luncheons, you may mistake their candor as sales pushiness.  While there will be a few pushy sales people to be certain, the vast majority of the group is there to meet new people and grow their network.  Although it does happen, don't go expecting to sell something to someone that day.  And bring plenty of business cards but don't hand one out unless asked.   Rarely does anyone follow up with someone from an unsolicited card.

Networking luncheons provide an outstanding opportunity to meet a lot of people and to meet many who know the people you need to know.  Just remember that the networking luncheon is a time-compressed, full contact, networking event. It requires a clear understanding of the attendees and for you to have a concise, audience-focused message.  Be certain to attend, meet new people, and follow-up promptly and you will win big at networking luncheons.


Knock, Knock! Know Who Is There At Networking Events: Morning Groups

Perhaps you are a serial networker. You attend every event you can and you meet a lot of people.  And of course you meet other serial networkers.  But have you ever stopped to examine the different types of people and which events they frequent?  This can be a powerful aid in finding the right prospects for your products or services.  Knowing who is there will assist you in determining where your efforts will be best spent.

 

Networking events are held at all hours of the day.  In larger cities you can even find networking events twenty-four hours a day.  However most networking events fall into one of three time frames; breakfast, lunch and after-hours.  While serial networkers will attend all three, the remainder of the crowd will be determined by the time of day the event is held.

 

Most every early morning networking event will be held before 9:00 a.m.   You can expect breakfast of some sort, from bagels and pastries to a full plated meal and you can expect to meet a select group of people.  Since these events happen before the workday starts, breakfast meetings are often the choice of C-level executives and business owners.  Whether a solo-practitioner or a busy corporate executive, breakfast is often the only discretionary time these folks have to participate. 

 

Professional people and C-level executives from all fields will choose breakfast networking meetings.  Not only are they more available in the morning, but they also know they can control to a large degree the types and number of interactions they will experience.  The busiest and hardest to reach people will often arrive just before the program starts and leave promptly upon conclusion.  If you are going to connect with them you will need to plan carefully and be realistic in your expectations.  Just because you met Jane Mega Company at the breakfast doesn't mean you have the right to call and email her. 

 

First determine exactly whom you wish to meet.  When the opportunity arises, introduce yourself and ask permission to contact them at a later date (you may even be able to set an appointment right then and there).  Remember that most people who are busy are also highly organized.  When they come to networking events they are bombarded by sales people.  When you handle the interaction as an opportunity to connect and discuss business later you will stand out from the crowd.  Of course you can ask a few questions about them and their business, but keep it brief and plan for a meeting in the future. 

 

One outstanding way to ensure you meet everyone is to volunteer to be a greeter at the event.  Even if you can't serve in a formal role, you can stand near the entrance and exit and welcome people with a warm handshake and smiling face.  But consistency is the key.  Everyone must be treated as if they are the most important person in the room, after all they are to someone and they just might be to you.  Additionally, being a greeter once in a while won't work.  Be consistent in greeting people at events and soon everyone will know you.

Breakfast meetings present an outstanding opportunity to meet people that rarely attend events at other times during the day.  Including breakfast meetings as a part of your networking plan will maximize your effectiveness and increase the likelihood that you will meet the right people.


Observe the Multiple Networking Group Law: No Double-Dipping

As you begin to find success in networking you will undoubtedly expand your network to include more than one group.  Becoming active in several networking groups focused on varying interest, geography, or industry is a wise move that will broaden your exposure and increase your effectiveness.  We encourage and highly recommend that you are involved in more than one group, chamber of commerce, or both.

 

With expanded exposure comes the opportunity to share your network with a wider variety of people. You will provide more solutions to more people and they will provide you with more connections.  Your network will grow.  This benefits you, your network, and your new networking partners. 

 

However there is one rule that you must never violate if you are to succeed in multiple groups. Never under any circumstances give two people in the same business the same referral. If your friend Sam is buying a new house, you cannot refer Sam to two mortgage brokers in different groups.  That is just like double-dipping chips at a party; you just shouldn't do it.  It is not cool and everyone gets hurt when you share the same referral with two people in the same industry.

 

Your friend Sam gets a mixed message and begins to feel like he is just a number to you.  He is likely to think you are not trying to help him as much as you are trying to help yourself.  The two mortgage brokers end up embarrassed and looking like little more than glad-handing salespeople.  And you end up with a loss of credibility that will lead to fewer referrals and potential expulsion from both groups.

 

But do not be confused. It is appropriate and desirable to share the same referral with solution providers in similar but different industries.  You most definitely should share Sam's name with one mortgage broker, one realtor, one insurance agent, and one moving company provided you know that Sam has an interest or need for these services.  Your knowledge of Sam's needs is a direct result of your relationship with Sam.

 

Your relationship with Sam may not be close enough for you to know all his needs and interests. You may have recently met Sam and you only know he is in the market for a new home.  It stands to reason he may have a need a mortgage broker, insurance agent, realtor, and mover.  But you are not close enough to Sam to know for certain.  You should still share Sam's name with one provider for each service from your network.  In doing so be clear with each person that Sam is a lead, not a referral.  In either case, sending resources to Sam that can solve his problems helps him, the referral partners, and you.

 

Understanding how and when to share referrals is essential to your success in networking and in life. Observing the law of  "no double-dipping" will ensure you have greater success.


Glen Gould blog goes live.

It has been several years and a series of fun interesting twists but it has happened.  Glen Gould now has a blog and a website with his name as the URL.  Indeed its true.  A long time ago - I sought to claim my place in the world wide web and all the GlenGould.??? were gone.  So wait and wait and then one day my partner emailed me GlenGould.net was available.  I claimed it and now I am here to share.