When one of Metro Detroit’s most popular B2B groups rolled into the PatchWork Collective this week, the topic of the day was networking: how to do it well. Hear from Motor City Connect’s leader Terry Bean, and find out how to take your networking game to the next level.
At the PatchWork Collective, we love connecting business owners and entrepreneurs to one another. One of our goals as a coworking space is to build up our members by helping them network with other members of the space, and our broader sphere of connections. So when Terry Bean of Motor City Connect asked if we would host their July meeting, the answer was a resounding YES!
Networking is More than Passing Business Cards
When a lot of new business owners think about networking events, the imagine filling their pockets with business cards and going on a kind of scavenger hunt. The traditional model of networking was something similar to a game of Pokémon: “Gotta catch ’em all!” Networkers hurried around the room gathering up the business cards of everyone there. It didn’t matter who they were or what they did. You would follow up that brief intro with more meaningful information later.
But the modern networker knows that the Pokémon style of networking makes a terrible first impression. If all you seem to care about is how many business cards you can add to your stack, then the people you spoke with won’t want to take the extra time to read anything you send them later. If you don’t make a point of distinguishing each person you meet from the crowd, they won’t make a point of remembering you, either.
That’s why you need to make the most of the time you have right there in the meeting. By focusing on a few quality connections every time (rather than the quantity of connections you make), you can make a good first impression that leaves the people you meet wanting more and looking for that follow-up email you promised.
The Ask is All About the Why
When the formal part of the networking begins, most groups circle up and give each person a chance to do a “commercial” or “elevator pitch” about their business. This gives the whole group a chance to get to know you and gives you a chance to present your “ask”. Terry Bean has more:
At the Motor City Connect meeting this Tuesday, Terry encouraged networkers to answer 4 questions with their ask:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Who are you looking to connect with?
- Why should they listen to you?
For example, as a facilities manager here at PatchWork I might say:
Hi. I’m Lisa Schmidt from the PatchWork Collective, a coworking space with the heart of Ferndale. Today, I’m looking to connect with home-based workers who need to get out of the house. I can offer them a flexible membership plan that gives them a way to avoid distractions, and get work done.
The “why” is the most important part of the whole thing. When you attend a large networking event, there might be as many as a dozen other people who work in your industry. If those business owners have a contact looking for your services they need to know what unique value proposition you have that sets you apart. It’s not just about what you do. It’s about what they need and how you can meet that need.
Now It’s Your Turn to Up Your Networking Game
Ready to try the 4 questions yourself? You’re in luck. Motor City Connect will be back at PatchWork next month, on Tuesday, August 27th, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. Head over to the Facebook event now to reserve your spot at one of Metro Detroit’s most popular networking events. Then get practicing! We can’t wait to hear your Ask.