My Networking Life in New Jersey, by Mark Yecies, SunQuest Funding
Networking in NJ has become a way of life for me. The majority of my business takes place in New Jersey, so networking in NJ is the one of the most effective ways for me to increase my business.
While Networking in NJ I have noticed that many of the same people attend a variety of networking events. Finding different venues to expand my network in NJ has become a challenge. Many people try networking and become discouraged. Growing one’s business through networking is a commitment. You can’t attend one or two events and expect to see returns immediately.
First, networking is about giving, not taking. Learning how to introduce each other without the expectation for anything in return separates good networkers from the rest. Keeping your rolodex in the front of your mind while networking is the first step for successful networking.
Second, you must listen. People tell you what they need or who their audience is. Many times you’ll know someone else that has similar needs; but provides a different service or product. Introducing these two people will help each of them help each other.
Third, make sure that the people you introduce are reliable sources of supply. You can ruin your reputation by introducing someone that doesn’t provide a high level of service. Have a cup of coffee or a sandwich with someone to get to know them will help give a sense of that person. Don’t be afraid to meet with people that have nothing to do with your business. The person you’ve met with could know several individuals that may be of interest to you.
Be sure to network in the same places over and over again for a while. Building relationships takes time. You can’t expect to refer people you don’t know well or expect them to refer you. While networking in NJ, putting in the time to build relationships pays dividends in the future. As people know you better and become more comfortable with you, you’ll be able to deepen your relationship to refer each other more often and give better referrals.
To start networking in NJ, pick one or two networking organizations such as a local chamber of commerce, a LeTip or BNI and begin attending meetings regularly. The fruits of your efforts will take 6 months to a year to harvest. You should sense if the chemistry and vibe is good for you after attending 5 or 6 meetings. If the fit doesn’t feel right, then move on.
Two basic types of networking organizations exist. Those that have exclusive classifications for members, one plumber, one financial planner and so forth, and those without exclusivity. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Networking with other individuals in your industry or overlapping industries provides resources to help your business and your customers. There’s nothing better than having a friendly competitor to compare notes with. Groups with exclusive categories give the confidence to share information with others that you might not feel free to discuss otherwise.
Once you start networking in NJ, other networking opportunities present themselves unexpectedly. I get invited to events that I would never have thought of attending in the past like awards dinners and celebrity hosted events.
You can also create your own networking events. Every other month or so, my firm hosts a happy hour. We invite referral sources, allied businesses, suppliers and friends. Our guests find the events to be enjoyable and worthwhile. People have begun to ask when our next event will be. A friend of mine hosts a networking event every other month. Most of the attendees are regulars. He invites some new people or one timers to every event. His events have high energy with a lot of good information exchanged. You can charge admission to your events to cover the cost of food and soft drinks. If the meetings are worthwhile, people will pay to come. Plus, if people pay, they’ll put a higher value on their investment in making the event work for them.
Many people attend golf outings, tennis events or even bicycling networking events. You can use your imagination to create any kind of event that you have interest in and find likeminded individuals to join and have fun. If the events are fun with high quality networkers, they’ll be more successful.
Expanding the number and quality of people you network with will help your business in ways you can’t anticipate. A result of expanding your sphere of influence while networking in NJ makes resources available to help grow your business beyond new referrals. Having resources available to ask questions regarding contracts, human resources, suggestions regarding a difficult negotiation or personal matters and more. When I can make a phone call to a friend to ask for help resolving a difficult situation, life becomes easier.
In short, networking in NJ is a fun and interesting way to increase business. Try to attend as many events as possible without spreading yourself too thin. Bring plenty of business cards. Give it a try.
Written by: Mark Yecies, SunQuest Funding