Every few years the Prince George Chamber of Commerce hosts all the Chambers across BC. During this time they host a fantastic networking event where you have the chance to meet all the connectors to businesses across the province.
We still have relationships with some of the Vancouver Island Chamber past board members from a few years ago.
On May 26th EVENING (so you can go to BOTH the Catalyst Event and still make this event) there will be 150 Executive Directors and Executive Board Members from other Chambers around BC at the “Pick Ups and Plaid” themed event. Don’t miss this opportunity to expand your reach provincially.
Now networking events may not be everyone’s cup of tea… but showing up is half the battle. I remember back when the first BC Chamber AGM came to PG… I (Shauna) was not very comfortable heading into large networking events. (I know, hard to imagine now!)
Whether you LOVE networking or hate it, it is important to show up. Here is some advice for those that don’t LOVE networking (and even for those that do!).
1. Don’t try to meet the entire room – Believe it or not, this is not a numbers game. You don’t “win” just because you have collected the most business cards. What you want to do is learn from those in the room and see where you can possibly connect the dots (now and even in the future). You may already know a few people in the room – Notice where they are, but don’t necessarily go up to them at first… that is too easy! You have plenty of time to bump into them later on in the evening or another time in the city (especially if they are from PG).
2. Look for people standing on their own – When I attended the last one, I wasn’t that comfortable with going into a large crowd. But to my surprise, when I looked around, I actually found many people who also seemed somewhat uncomfortable… OR they were just on their own grazing at the food table. It was a perfect opportunity for me to graze along with them and then ask, “So are you from PG or else where in BC?”. This easily leads into other questions – What’s your city like, what’s important right now, what do you do? what did you do today? Have you had a chance to see a lot of PG? This leads into point number 3.
3. Be curious about that person – Even if you have the best product or service, it is never helpful in relationship building to spit out everything you can offer in the first 1-2 mins of the conversation. People that are shy may not start a conversation, but they can usually easily answer questions. Be present and curious about what they do. It will help you to better understand them and find places where you might have possible synergies. For me, I love to learn from other businesses and find out what motivates business owners or what they are excited about. Regardless of what your interests are, you want to get curious about the person in front of you and find out what you can learn from them.
4. Be the Connector – Even if you don’t see how the dots connect right away, they could be a connector to someone else for you OR you can be the connector for them. Nearing the end of a conversation – it is always good to connect them to another person you might know in the room, or take them with you as you go and meet other people. Remember, you are also showcasing the City of PG. When our city does well, so do our businesses locally.
5. Follow up – Make sure you grab a business card and ask – Are you on Linkedin or Twitter? Hopefully you are on both or at least LinkedIn and can connect with them after the event. I usually jot a few notes down about what we talked about so that when I follow up it is a little more personal. If you aren’t on either LinkedIn or Twitter, then at least pop a quick email to stay connected. Relationships don’t build in one connection, they take time and nurturing. Not every seed you will want to nurture either. Some people you will choose to stay in touch with, while others you may just have in your network from this one meeting. Tools like LinkedIn and Twitter allow quick follow ups and visibility for ones that you are trying to nurture over time.
Business is always done in relation to others. Whether you do business completely online, in person in your community or throughout the world, you need to know how to find the seeds to grow your network.by