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Bates: It’s time to take your networking to the next level

Kay Rial Bates
Kay Rial Bates

It’s time to take your networking to the next level.

Be a superhero networker in 2018! It’s not hard, and being a powerful networker will make all the difference to the entrepreneur looking to grow his or her business. I have a few suggestions below that could help you on your way to joining the Marvel squad.

• Plan before attending an event. Your time is limited, so your networking needs to be focused on the type of businesses you need to meet at each event. Also, you must concentrate on the host of the activity. Should you know ahead of time who is attending, search them out on social media. There might be common interests that you can build a relationship on.

• When you first meet someone, think about them first before your need to gain clients. Try this: invite them to an event that will help them in their business. Maybe there is information that you can give guiding them toward better practices. Facilitate introductions. This is powerful, and you will be remembered.

• Focus on building a relationship, not on getting a killer sale. Ask questions about your acquaintance’s organization, community and interests. Do your best to find common ground. If all else fails, the Chicago sports scene is always a great topic. Instead of using a “canned elevator speech” when asked about your occupation, consider adding a dimension that makes you memorable. “I am a master gardener.” “I am a banker by day and a biker by night.” When initially meeting people, your focus is to develop a relationship.

• What you do after the event is what separates the superhero networker from the powerless. Do you send a card to those you have met reminding them of something you have in common? Do you call stating you would like to meet with them to talk about working on mutual goals? Do you take a look at gathered business cards the evening of the event and write comments? Do you send acquaintances a favorite article?

This is hard for many, but I think essential. Have an accountability partner, or someone who will hold your feet to the fire, and do likewise for him or her. If you say you will increase cash flow by 20 percent or contact nine potential customers, you need someone to ask whether this was achieved. Small companies especially need this, as they are their own boss.

• Last, I think this is of most importance: Those people who are your best referral sources should be rewarded. Make sure you show your appreciation. This could be accomplished by introducing them to someone they need to know, sending them a “how-to” book on organizational growth or article on a hobby you both share, or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant.

You can be a superhero networker. It’s easy, and it will help your business grow exponentially.

• • •

Upcoming events include a joint mixer Tuesday at Red Wing, 40 Williams St., Crystal Lake.

Next, we are pleased to announce a mixer March 13 hosted at McHenry Villa by McHenry Villa, Dimensions Home Health Care and FirstLight Home Care. March 20 brings us to Long Shot’s Mixer, and April 3 starts off with Kiwanis’ Mixer at Smith’s Central Garage.

Women’s Network Group initiated its new “join the conversation” “Chew on This” dialogue luncheon series in January. Coming up March 21 is “Making the Horse Drink, Perspectives on Leadership.” It is said “you can bring a horse to the water, but you can’t make him drink.” How, then, can we positively influence those around us?

Join this discussion about motivating employees and shareholders, creating company culture and “good” decisions. Key leaders will be Suzanne Hoban, executive director of Family Health Partnership Clinic; Kim Qualls, principal of Cary-Grove Junior High School; and Sandra Pierce, owner of Phoenix Woodworking.

We are almost sold out of booths for our March 10 expo. Don’t delay.

• Kay Rial Bates is president of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce. Reach her at 815-385-4300 or visit mchenrychamber.com.

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