July 31, 2012
Success starts here: members share networking tips
Regardless of your sales and service approach - be it consultative, competitive, or team selling - it all starts with building a network of current and prospective clients. Whether you're a card-carrying member of the C-Suite, mid-level manager or a budding young professional, you've got one thing in common: you do business or provide service in Cincinnati USA, which means that you have access to the largest, most connected Chamber in the region. No other organization offers a direct connect to over 5,000 decision-makers in manufacturing, construction, healthcare, consumer marketing and branding, retail, IT, banking, accounting, law and more - at 150+ events annually.
So, how do you take advantage of your Chamber membership to network and build your pipeline of prospects? We compiled a couple of must-haves for networking success, and asked members to share a page or two from their playbooks, too. Read, practice and repeat for success - and feel free to share yours.
Here's to a banner 2012, Cincinnati USA!
Virtual connectivity is great - but nothing beats face-to-face
As Maribeth Rahe, president & CEO, Ft. Washington Investments, who also serves on the board of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber shares, "Business cannot be done solely by sitting behind the desk. You've got to get out, make connections and learn from the marketplace."
Listening leads to connecting
The secret of positive networking, according to author Darcy Rezac, is "discovering what you can do for someone else. It's about opening a relationship, not closing a sale." When you network this way, you're better able to listen and react, versus thinking about what to share or say next. Simply stated, it helps you listen and remember the conversation - so that you can later connect others - and great networkers enjoy connecting people.
Be the brand: what's your 30-second elevator speech
"We furnish places of purposes," offers Gerald Shannon of RJE Interiors. "I know our competitive advantages, sure - but more importantly, I stress the fact that we take the time to learn what our clients need to make their clients successful."
Sheena Parton, executive director, Llanfair Retirement Community, agrees, "From my outgoing voicemail message, which describes our organization as 'a masterpiece living community' to my interactions, I try to reinforce what we do to make lives better." Learn more about Gerald at www.rjecincy.com, and reach Sheena at www.llanfairohio.org.
Plan your work, work your plan
Erin Arnold, president of NetStep Networking, provides IT Consulting, Implementation, and Support services. "I started a great relationship with one of my clients as a result of participating in one of the Chamber's Women Excel (WE) programs. I think their leadership knowing me and who we were helped make the decision - and now we serve as their IT department."
Erin offers this simple advice, "Have a plan. Before you go, think about why you're attending. Who do you want to meet at the event - and why? What information will you share?" Booking time afterwards is equally important. "Make follow-up a priority, and allot enough time after each event to reinforce the meeting and strengthen the connection." Connect at www.nextstepnetworking.com.
Align activities with goals
Lauren Abel did a mash-up in 2012, launching a new business that allows her to infuse others with her passion for physical fitness while maintaining a successful PR practice.
"And," she says, "the Chamber played a big role. First, membership is a great value and pays for itself every year - but getting involved is the key to getting the most value. By serving on the Small Business Advisory Board and attending educational and networking events, I have met decision makers who
later became clients for both my public relations firm, Abel Associates, and my corporate wellness/personal training firm, Abel Fitness Training. I've also met great vendors through the Chamber, like Treefrogg Specialties, who created beautiful company shirts and other logo items for us." Learn more at www.abelpr.com and www.abelfitness.com.
Get the word (and pictures) out
Sharing your company's story strategically can be a challenge. Just getting started is the hardest part, which is why business veterans Allan Greer and Adam Smith founded PrintWeb Technologies. "Our web-based tool offers pre-populated templates to help companies get their marketing messages out. We offer a discount to Chamber members, and an even deeper break when you brand your marketing collateral with the Chamber logo."
Greer recently met two clients at a Chamber event. "I went to the 'Building a Better Board' program and left with good information for my business and two leads. We're quoting work now, and I'm looking forward to attending more Chamber events now that the business is up and running." Reach them at www.printwebtech.com.
Popping the question
Mary Miller, CEO of JANCOA Janitorial Services, landed one of her largest clients at a Chamber event with a simple question: "Who cleans your building?" Miller, a long-time customer of Sheakley, was seated next to a few execs from the locally-based Workers' Comp provider. Bridging to "…if you hired my company to do it, it would make it a lot easier for me to pay my Sheakley bill," led to the opportunity to submit a bid - and ultimately win the business. Learn more at www.jancoa.com.
Meaningful conversations - and contacts
Uche Agomuo, president & CEO of G & C Engineering Consulting, builds supply chain solutions using tested Lean Six Sigma disciplines. "We save companies thousands of dollars that can be reinvested in their business. I reach the people I need at Chamber events, and it's an excellent forum for meaningful conversations." Reach Uche at www.gncengr.com.
Stuck? Widen the circle
Tim Schoonover, president of OI Partners, provides executive coaching, outplacement services and workplace issues consultation. "When we develop staff talent, companies grow. And as talented staff expand their networks, companies stay aware and relevant." Tim's tip for networking at an event: widen the circle. “First, I believe it is very important to be open and available to meet others. Second, when meeting folks, be an active listener. Listen in a caring way, and say their name aloud. Third, introduce your new friend to others, immediately, as the opportunity arises!” Opportunity available at www.oipartners.net.
"X" marks the spot
Pam Beigh, president of SALESCORE, suggests that a little targeting goes a long way. "I networked like crazy when my practice was new. We empower leaders to drive sustainable sales, and as my company grew, I became more focused on targeting the individuals to whom I could really provide value. Now, I activate my Chamber membership by attending programs and serving on the Small Business Advisory Board. The Chamber's helped me build business relationships, create wonderful friendships and grow as an individual." Sign up for Pam’s weekly sales quote or learn more about SALESCORE’s proven process, real results, at www.salescore.net.
Tell two friends
Tom Tasset and Sun Ho Donovan, co-hosts of "The American Dream" radio show on AM 1160, talk with Chamber members every week on their weekend broadcast. Share your story, the challenges you've experienced and the hurdles you've helped clients overcome. Contact either at 513.544.1561.
Rate this article in the space below, and share your networking success story or tips with Chamber members.