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Business networking - what works for you?

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Business networking - what works for you?

Old 04-23-08, 08:02 PM
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Business networking - what works for you?

I'm wondering what you other small business owners do as far as networking, if anything. I'm in a business where networking is vital to my survival. I'm joining a local leads group in which I will be the only person providing my type of services so that hopefully will help out. But I'm wondering if anyone uses or gets any value out of LinkedIn (I've never found any value in it) or Ryze, etc. There's also one that just started up here in Denver and in North Carolina called Slingshot and I've met some good business people through there already (and won the $500 sweeps!).

If there are others, what are they and how have they panned out for you? Where is/was your best money spent?
Old 04-23-08, 08:15 PM
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I guess it depends on what industry you are in, and where you live. I guess it also depends on how much time you have available to get involved.

I work in the health care industry, more specifically with the elderly. I have a number of opportunities to network, and from there I try and set up one-on-one meetings with the people I come accross at these networking functions. I also volunteer on a charity committee, which has helped me market myself and the organization I represent.

I would assume that you have a Chamber of Commerce in your area (if you don't, maybe think about starting one yourself). Go to the meetings, and join one of their comittees. Also, think about starting a partnership with people in your industry who don't sell your exact product/service. Share leads, industry trends, business advice, etc.
Old 04-23-08, 08:22 PM
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OK so if it helps I should probably say that I'm a health insurance broker. Health, life and supplemental insurance. I used to sell P&C for other entities but have recently started my own brokerage firm focusing solely on the health side.

I'm located in Colorado. I can easily get licensed in other states but my focus right now is Colorado. If there's a need down the road then I'll pay to get licensed elsewhere - like California.

I am thinking about joining the Chamber. I have a free pass to a couple of after hours events. I know it's a lot of work though.

Also, I am an advocate and volunteer for the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and ADA (American Diabetes Association). Though I haven't turned the switch on the networking within those foundations. How would you do that?
Old 04-24-08, 09:49 AM
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Well shit! lol
Old 04-24-08, 10:23 AM
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melba, I think the Chamber of Commerce meetings would probably be a good start. Can you think of any ideas or possibilities for seminars that you could hold to educate potential clients (I'm guessing business owners / HR personnel)? I mean general knowledge stuff that they can use, not specifically why they should use you.

Your position is a bit tricky because you can network with a lot of people who don't necessarily have the capacity to make decisions or even have any influence regarding your product within their organization. So I guess you have to be a bit more targeted so you don't waste a lot of time.

(Not saying that general networking is a waste of time, but don't spend all your time doing that).

I know an attorney that specializes in estate planning and he holds free seminars on Medicare. (He also does Medicare planning but it's obviously not as lucrative as estate planning).
Old 04-24-08, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by melbatoast
Also, I am an advocate and volunteer for the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and ADA (American Diabetes Association). Though I haven't turned the switch on the networking within those foundations. How would you do that?
That's sort of what I was mentioning in my previous post. Years ago, my company made us attend different home-show type events. Yes, I guess I'm connected to home improvement tangentially, but most people were there to discuss hot tubs, what type of windows they should get, etc. I imagine in what you're involved in, health / diabetes will be important to those people. That, to me, doesn't directly translate into providing health coverage.

My guess is it would be more useful to hold things like COBRA seminars (or another topic you'd be familiar with) that relates more directly to the actual people you want to talk to.
Old 04-24-08, 11:30 AM
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Yep - those chamber meetings and events are good. There's just A LOT of them. In my area, you HAVE to go to all of them f you can. People here for some reason are extremely competitive. Plus, for whatever reason, most of the people here are business owners. Strange.

As far as my activities with JDRF and ADA - it's not a networking tool for me, at least that's not why I'm involved. My 11 year old son is diabetic.

I am putting together an Aflac seminar for my community this summer.

Old 04-24-08, 04:54 PM
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It really depends on your business.. I used to network quite a bit, but the payoff was never really worth the effort I put forth. I still occasionally attend local events, but I didn't find any value in the Chamber, BNI, or any other pay organizations.
Old 04-24-08, 07:41 PM
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I'm an IT guy. My professional networking is all about user groups, and to a much lesser extent attending vendor presentations.

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