Network Like A Warrior: How To Choose The Best Cincinnati Networking Event To Attend

February is Warrior Networking month and much like the famous generals and leaders of wars fought before us, choosing the best networking event to attend is like preparing for battle:

Choosing the right battle plan and grounds can win you a sweet victory.

Choosing the wrong tools and underestimating your environment can lead you to defeat.

Your selection of networking circles and groups is one of the most important marketing and growth decisions you’ll ever make.  Don’t leave the fate of your small business in the hands of people whom you barely know or have never met.

So how, exactly, do you choose the best networking event to attend?

small business networking event Cincinnati

1. KNOW THYSELF:

Smart small business owners know that the value of networking isn’t in the message that they deliver; it’s in the message they receive. 

We’ve seen countless relationships go straight to the bottom as a result of one person’s inability to listen and ask strategic questions.  However, if you’re the one doing the asking, you’ll walk away with valuable insight into the other person’s problems, fears and worries.

Then, you’ll be able to determine exactly how your product or service makes their life easier and who is in their circle of contacts that you should meet.  

  • If you function better in small group settings or if you sometimes struggle with keeping your attention focused, go for the networking meetings in the morning or during the day.  These tend to have a more structured setting.  Everyone gets a turn to share what they do and you can shake a few hands before and after.
  • If you do well in larger crowds and noisier places, go for networking events at night.  Everyone is usually standing and can freely move about the room and approach one another.  These types of events offer the most to the person who can drop a conversation and easily pick up where they left off.
  • Remember that you are not there to sell your products or services.  Most people are not interested in being pushed into a deal or promotion when they first meet you.  Doing so can damage your reputation and put a hole in your sales funnel.

You are there to listen and to learn as much as possible about the person who you are speaking to.

Take the pressure off of yourself to perform and to sell.  

Would you rather have people leave the meeting excited to get in touch with you or relieved that the conversation is over?

 

2.  KNOW YOUR TARGET & YOUR ALLIES

  • If at all possible, get access to the guest list.  You should identify ahead of time the people who will be attending.  If there is no list of attendees, check out the host’s Facebook page or LinkedIn profile.  Often these events are promoted through social media channels.
  • Don’t wait until one hour before the event to scan the list.  Pick out names, look up companies and do your research.
  • Try to determine if the other people attending will be either:

A. Your target customer

OR

B. A good referral partner

OR

C. In the same industry

small business networkingEvery person in attendance should meet one of these three criteria.  The first two may be obvious, but keep in mind that it is to your advantage to connect with similar minds.

 

 

Networking events are excellent places to bounce ideas off of others in your same industry.  However, remember that that this person DOES NOT represent competition. 

You’re not there to compete; you’re there to learn.

Showing a keen interest in someone else’s services, though they may be similar or even identical to yours, gives you an ideal opportunity to share advice, lessons learned and even failures.

Translation:  it gets the other person to open up.

Better to learn from someone else’s mistakes and apply them to your own business, right?

There’s networking events for entrepreneurs, marketers, artists, doctors, lawyers, etc.  If a specialized group, rather than generalized, is your target, then choose accordingly.

 

3.  KNOW YOUR INVESTMENT

  • Networking in any type of environment requires precious time out of your day.  Expect the average networking event to last from one to three hours.  Whether in the morning or evening, this is time spent out of your day that you could spend elsewhere.

Estimate that any networking event will probably add up to around three hours of your time, including travel.  Calculate that number by your average hourly rate.

  • Also, consider the cost of the event.  There are hundreds of networking events that are free, particularly for visitors.  However, there are events that may cost anywhere between $10-$100.  Light snacks, door prizes, advertising opportunities and keynote speaker presentations could be included, which may sweeten the deal.

However, if you find that the networking event doesn’t offer you any of these perks, be wary of the prices charged and the value offered in return.   

It should be worth every single minute of your time and dime of your money.  So the advantages of attending should far outweigh the disadvantages of not attending.  Only you can decide.

Follow these battle strategies to help you select the best networking event to attend.

Out of all the options available to you, how can you be sure that you’re spending your non-billable time and your money most effectively in networking?

ASBC is currently offering you a no-cost list of pre-qualified referrals when you come in for your initial advising session!  We’ll help you identify where you can earn the biggest return on your networking investment!

You can visit our Warrior Networking Events page to see our calendar of local networking opportunities.

So tell us: What do you think are the most effective strategies in selecting the best networking event to attend?

What makes some networking events better than others?  What are the disadvantages to these strategies?  Let us know what you think!