One of my favorite things about being a Business Development Consultant for Bill Hansen Catering is building long-lasting relationships with successful professionals from all industries. It’s so much fun… No day is like the other! Since I started this position in March I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many interesting people, discover new event spaces in this ever-growing city and re-connect with other likeminded event professionals passionate about our industry.
I’m a believer that no networker is a bad networker because you never know where you’re going to meet you’re next big client! However, there are so many networking events happening every day (sometimes I have three or four on my schedule on any given night), that I need to be selective of which ones I attend.
I typically RSVP to the events which provide an experience… It’s easier to connect with someone when you’re both doing something that is of interest. I also prefer the events where I’ll learn something new. Events, for example, which showcase a different venue every time or have a panel with interesting topics of discussion. Not only am I meeting new people but I’m also growing professionally. A Win Win!Lastly, I’ve found that some of the most successful networkers I have attended are the cross industry networkers which attract people from all professions. The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce do an excellent job at creating fun and different networking events full of quality people from all backgrounds. They also have more industry specific councils and committees that you can participate in and make a difference by becoming more involved with the community.Below are a few tips I’ve found help me when it comes to successful networking.
- Have a plan. Take a few minutes on Fridays or Mondays to plan your schedule for the week. Do a little research on the events you plan to attend and who is attending them. Knowing the kind of audience attending the event will help you create points of conversation that will spark a conversation of interest.
- Try to make a meaningful connection with everyone you speak with. This makes it so much easier for me to remember everyone I meet. I listen and I ask questions! My purpose at these events is not to meet as many people as possible but to build quality relationships. Even if someone can’t use my services today they may come back and be my best client in two years. You never know!
- Follow up! I send everyone a short email the next morning saying it was nice to meet them and then I try to stay in touch. If it is prospect client I’ll follow up with a request for a second meeting. It’s time consuming but it’s a nice touch that goes a long way. Networking will only pay off with results equal to the effort you put in.