Networking 101 Part 2 – Where to Network

Today is December 30th and I’m sitting here reflecting back on 2016 and thinking about the good and the bad of the year.  As a team we had a great December as The IGNITE Media Group.  Sales to close the year out made December the best month of the year.  While these deals came from a whole variety of industries, every single one of these sales had one thing in common…a referral.  No cold calls, no past customers and no leads were purchased.  Every one of our deals came from someone saying that we do good work and they should call us.

Networking works.  I know it does.  It is the life blood of my business.  That is why it’s going to sound odd that my 2017 New Year’s Resolution is to network MORE aggressively.  I’m not in real estate.  This is not about location, it’s about connections.

The last time I blogged about Networking I talked about the skills you need once you find yourself in a networking situation.  Today I want to focus on where to network.  Here are 3 easy places to get yourself out there.

  1. Join your local Chamber of Commerce.  Seriously, this is the easiest one that is accessible to everyone.  I live in Clarkston so I joined the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce and my business is in Rochester so we also joined the Rochester Regional Chamber of Commerce.  Every chamber I’ve every worked with has had dozens of networking events and opportunities every month.  They offer young professional networks, networks groups, luncheons, breakfasts, coffee talks, educational speakers, happy hours…  The list goes on and on.  But here’s the thing, you only get out what you put in.  Giving the Chamber a few hundred bucks and then never showing up to anything will not drive you business.  Sure you may get a random cold call from someone trying to sell you something because your name is in the directory.  You might even get an inbound sales call because of the directory, but don’t leave your fate up to that slim chance.  Get out to the events.   Everyone there is also there to get their name out.  You’re not whoring yourself out and you’re not the inappropriate guy handing out business cards at a funeral (I’ve seen this).
  2. Reconnect with your Alma Mater.  If you’re lucky enough to live in the same area you went to High School or College these could be a great opportunity.  Better yet, they could be a chance to get back involved philanthropically as well.  It could be a chance to network, volunteer and mentor someone.  11 years ago I was one of the co-founders of The Brother Rice Business Alliance.  My Catholic High School has a tremendous network of Alumni and parents, and while LinkedIn and Facebook had been founded, they were not nearly the juggernauts we know them as today.  This was our chance to organize and mobilize individuals with similar background and shared experiences.  If your school isn’t local, there is a good chance there is a local chapter.  Check with your Alumni Association, check if there is a LinkedIn or Facebook group for your town.  Large universities have chapters all over the country.  They are going to ask you for a donation, that’s part of the ante to play.  It could pay off 10 fold.
  3. Join a fraternal or service organization in your area.  No, I’m not telling you to find God or try to learn some secret handshake, but these organizations are a great chance to connect with people in your community.  The Free Masons have 12,000 lodges and 2,000,000 members in just North America.  Think you can find someone to talk about your business there?  The Knights of Columbus have over 15,342 councils and 1.9 million members world wide.  What are you selling?  You think they have someone who needs you locally?  If not them, check the Jaycees, the Loyal Order of the Moose, The Rotary of the Elks.

 

Next time we’ll talk about social selling and networking online.  If you have any questions Email me or tweet me.

Ok.  My turn to shut up and listen.  What can I help YOU with today?  Who can I introduce you to?

Chris Drouin is the Director of Business Development for The Ignite Media Group in Rochester Hills, MI.  They specialize in web design, graphic design, print, photography, video and social media training and management.

Categories: Networking

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