As a business owner I do a lot of networking to grow my business, and as Managing Director of eWomenNetwork I host even more networking events to help others grow their business. I am constantly looking for the next best event to attend.
Today I went to a lunch event at the Union League Club in downtown Chicago. Wow, what a scenario! Ever walk into a room and wonder if you missed a pertinent memo about something. Well today was that day. I walk in the room in my normal business garb, which tends to include either a cute dress at an appropriate length or a pants cardigan outfit combo. Today I wore a really fantastic black and white pair of plaid pants with a purple dress shirt (got to sport my business color), and my favorite black cardigan. So I walk in and everyone including the other two women in the room are in suits that are seemingly from Astor & Black or that other place Tom James. (If these suit makers do not ring a bell, no worries, keep networking, they are aggressive sales people and you will meet them like it or not.)
I tend not to surround myself with people that wear suits that are more expensive then my car. (By the way I drive a 2008 Nissan Maxima.) So there I am in my fantastic pants, purple dress shirt and fav cardigan looking all casual about it, and standing out like the sorest thumb that ever existed. They always say do something unique to stand out so when you are networking people remember you. Check, I did that. Uber unique and memorable!!
My favorite part about most networking events are the food and listening to other peoples pitches. I happen to be a vegetarian, which for some reason equates to “she only eats lettuce” for most venues. I eat a lot of salads at these events, because all the sandwiches are piled high with roast beef and turkey, the soup always has chicken stock in it, and most of the available salads also have some kind of meat in them. I am always stuck eating 2 desserts and a plate of random wilting lettuce. Mind you I will take 2 desserts over any meal any day of the week, but it’s more on the principle that we vegetarians need sustenance too!
The Union League did their networking where everyone gets 2 minutes to speak and there were about 25 people (50 minutes of listening to others lay it on us). Let the pitches begin; there were 9 Financial Planners, several CPAs, the lady that would not stop talking (what did she do again), 6 just laid-off people, some guy who specializes in putting gold onto roses and me! There I am in all my non-suit glory belting out my tag line “It takes team work to make the dream work”.
As part of my role as a managing director with eWomenNetwork I work with people on their pitch, help them strategically network at events and encourage giving to create getting in return. There is nothing better than giving someone a lead to kindly persuade them to give you one back. Today, my inner monologue went bonkies listening to people give their pitch, because all the rules I have ever known to stand true in networking did not happen.
Key Networking Rules
(For networking at locations with and without suits included.)
– Be unique! (say something not about your business that makes you human and likeable)
– Create an edge. (if everyone is a financial planner, what do you do differently?)
– Smile : ) (deodorant and perfume/cologne go a long way too, suits aren’t everything)
– Help people help you. Explain your target market/client and who can help connect you to those clients. The most important part is WHO can help you connect to your target market.
– Stop shopping for your client and start shopping for someone that knows lots of your type of client. 1 person with 10 connections is better than 1 random new client.
– At the end of your pitch restate your name and tag line.
When networking, stop shopping for your client and start shopping for someone that knows lots of your type of client.
In Another’s Words…
“My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.”
— Indira Gandhi, Indian prime minister