Networking is a critical part of business development. Membership and involvement in business organizations are essential to developing and growing your network. From the local Chamber of Commerce to business and industry associations, each will widen your network connections.
During the Great Recession, I went through the books and scrutinized every company membership expense. What I discovered was that thousands of dollars were being wasted on national and local memberships that no one was using to their, or our, benefit. When I asked the joining members, many had forgotten they’d even joined or stated that they went to an event and didn’t get anything out of it.
I’ve heard that before, Businesspeople have explained to me that they didn’t rejoin or go to association meetings because they didn’t get anything out of it.
It’s time to set the record straight-
Joining a Business organization is not networking.
Networking for business development is working your membership to make it work for you. It is not merely attending events; it is actively participating in the organization.
Showing up, sitting at a table, and listening to a speaker will never result in a sale. Successful networking requires engaging with the membership and participating in the organization. This will require for you to come prepared to network properly with other attendees or businesses if you’re planning on attending without having any business cards or promotional material made, how are people going to remember you out of however many others?
The Formula to Connecting Quickly with an Organization’s Network
Through the years, I have often been asked how I’ve gotten so involved in the Atlanta business community.
It’s a simple formula:
- During the program, come up with a list of people that you plan to introduce yourself to at the conclusion of the program. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the speaker unless there is a business benefit. Good people to add to your list include the president of the organization, the chair of a committee who made an announcement, or an active person that you noticed networking the room.
- After you attend a meeting or event, linger. Introduce yourself to the people you put on your list.
- Ask how you can get involved. If you talk with officers or board members of the organization, don’t just introduce yourself-Ask how you can get involved. Are there any committees you can join? Follow up and follow through with their recommendations.
Two Never-Fail Secrets for Getting Involved and Making Yourself Known in an Organization:
- Get to know the organization’s paid staff. Share your interest in getting involved with them. Paid staff members are the heart of an organization and truly want you involved. From introductions to invitations, they will make it happen.
- Help clean up. Crazy as it may sound, I have made great connections and good friends from the first meeting just by staying late and helping clean, clearing plates and cups, picking up discarded literature, and moving chairs back in place. The people left behind at the end of any meeting are the backbone of any organization. They are the ones who know how to make a membership work for them, and they can be your catalyst to gaining value from your membership.
If you feel like you’ve tried everything and still don’t get any value from your membership, then the organization may not be able to offer any value, and you should move to another group.
However, in most business communities you will be hard-pressed to find a group that does not provide an excellent opportunity to network for the benefit of you and those waiting to meet you.
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ABOUT TAMMY COHEN:
In 1989, Cohen founded InfoMart, a multi-million dollar pre-employment screening company that provides services to Fortune 500 companies nationwide. InfoMart has numerous “Best Place to Work” awards from various organizations. As a recognized expert in the employment screening industry, Cohen is often referred to as “The Queen of Screen” and was influential in the founding of the screening industry’s first trade association, the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). Cohen is actively involved in a number of business and civic organizations and has received numerous personal honors, including a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record, the Entrepreneur of the Year award from YWCA of the USA, an Enterprising Woman of the Year Award from Enterprising Women, and the Phenomenal Women Award from the Siegel Institute.
InfoMart is an industry leader in background screening services, providing businesses the information they need to make well-informed hiring decisions. With more than 26 years in business, InfoMart is a pioneer in developing innovative technology and screening services, from criminal history searches to verifications of employment. Accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a designation earned by less than 10% of the industry, InfoMart has been recognized on Workforce Magazine’s Hot List of Background Screening Providers for 10 consecutive years. The company prides itself on its dedication to customers, innovation, and accurate reporting. For more information about InfoMart, please visit www.infomart-usa.com or call (770) 984-2727.