Welcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their business from home.
Today’s Q is:
Have you attended business networking events and how have they benefited your entrepreneurial growth?
Reba Collins from PLR One Stop says:
I have to admit, I have not attended any internet marketing business networking events. Not to say that I don’t want to, I just have not done it. Since I also work a full time job in addition to running my online business, I have always reserved my vacations for family and taking care of household matters. However, from what I hear, the opportunity to connect with fellow entrepreneurs in my industry would help catapult my business, so an effect of not attending is slower growth. That will need to change soon and I have my eye open for an event I can attend in Texas. Hopefully one will surface soon.
Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:
YES! I network. It has helped my business in ways you might not consider. First, like many entrepreneurs, it took me a while to hone in on my skills and my offer. I attended just one networking event on a regular basis and sometimes it was painful because I changed what I was doing every week! But by listening to others, getting to know people and sharing some of my successes, I was able to go through a discovery process before I expanded my reach into other networking events.
Many people show up at a networking event and expect to “sell” to someone immediately but that can prove not only to be disappointing, but damaging as well. Networking is kind of like dating. Let’s show up, ask a few things, and get to know each other. If you really want to excel at it, you should become the one person everyone must meet at a networking event. The way to do that is to make connections for others. What I mean is that if you meet someone new at a networking event who might sell cars, tell them they “must meet” Sally because she was in the market for a new car.
Connections made at networking events can span far greater than direct sales too. For example, if you work with small businesses, like I do, it is always great to meet an accountant because they meet small business owners every day.
I get calls all the time from people who say “Jane said we should talk” and that is a direct result of networking.
Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says:
Because I have two children and a husband who works a lot, getting out to attend business networking events has been a challenge for me. That said, I know how critical networking with others is, and the way I’ve been able to do this has been via the internet.
I belong to several online heart-based business networks that support and uplift each other. These groups have benefited my entrepreneurial growth in so many ways. First and foremost, connecting with others that are in similar niches and understand my unique business challenges is wonderful. These people really understand the emotional ups and downs of running a heart-based business. They are so supportive and if I am having a difficult day, I know I can find the encouragement I need to keep moving forward.
The other benefit is that, when I feel doubtful or overwhelmed, I look to others who have accomplished goals that are similar to my own. These people have become my inspiration and mentors. When I feel doubt, all I need to do is hop over to one of my spiritual business networks, look at the wonderful work being done there and say to myself, “I can do this, too.” At any given time, motivation is just a click away.
Stephanie Watson from Monthly Content Helpers says:
I have tried a few different times to go to local events, which for me did not pan out even though at first I thought they would. The biggest event I went to was an back in either ’98 or ’99 which actually convinced me that I knew nothing and needed to go back to school. I’m not sure that was the intent of the event. Other smaller local events mostly felt like a waste of time.
I totally believe in attending both live and online events to grow yourself as an entrepreneur and to grow your business. But, I think in order to make them work you have to choose your events wisely. Then, it’s important to be prepared in advance by knowing what your goals are, and how you’re going to reach the goals. Then make a commitment to yourself to follow through. Just going to any event, handing out business cards, and then not following up isn’t going to work.
For local events you’ll probably have to go a few times before anyone wants to work with you, and you may also need to volunteer to help the group succeed. That’s where I fail. I’m kind of an introvert, and big groups of people make me nervous. That nervous energy exhausts me. Plus, I cannot drive and have to rely on my husband to go with me. That’s sort of why I like working from home. I can still network online, join mastermind groups, and still make a full time living without going to live networking events.
However, today it’s becoming more imperative to go to live events as well as online networking events. People really want to see people, touch people, and get to know people now. In many ways, we’ve come full circle. While it’s a little scary and uncomfortable I do believe going to networking events is useful. That’s why I’m making a commitment to attend at least one big event this year.
Samantha Angel from Advancing Steps says:
I haven’t yet attended any networking events geared towards internet marketers but I will be going to NAMS in August. I’m really excited to see many people I’ve only met online and meet up with lots of new people. Attending events like this not only offers the opportunity to interact with smart people and learn important information but also builds more excitement through new perspectives and seeing the potential of what I can create with my business.
Christa Jensen from ChristaJensen.com says:
I have attended quite a few online networking events over the years and really dig the outcome of those events. While they don’t always produce sales right away they have always produced lasting contacts and eventual sales from some of those contacts. The growth I have experienced for my business with networking events makes them totally worth attending and I highly recommend them, hands down.
Joyce Reid from Creative Gifts to Go says:
My reply to this question is most likely going to be very different than most. In my 22 years in business, I have attended many networking events. What I have discovered is that the people who attend these events have the same purpose that you do — they want you to buy from them. They really don’t care at all about you or your business. I never try to sell myself or my business at these events. Instead, I try to learn about them and their business and then use this information to follow up, suggesting ways that would be a win-win situation for both of us.
I’ve been to several business networking events throughout the years, although not specifically for online marketing. I understand the sentiment of weighing the time investment against the payoff. At times, it does feel one-sided and you feel like you’ve attended a full day or even a three-day pitch fest. However, in referencing some of the points brought up by a many of our panel members, the benefits can be prolific if done correctly and if you participate in the right events (offline or online).
When I decided to jump into online marketing, I attended a general local meet-and-greet event. I went to gain some perspective in an attempt to grow my “networking skills.” However, as an introvert at the 110% mark, it was quite a challenge so I also empathize with the hurdle described above by one of our members. I’d imagine most introverts fill similar shoes. I don’t see it as a shortcoming by any means. Many introverts are highly intuitive and analytical which are great traits for entrepreneurship but networking can be an energy consuming activity, which may add another layer to the effort.
Nonetheless, I do believe networking for business can be a great tool if you change your viewpoint for attending. Perhaps a better goal might be one of relationship building and hoping for wins yes, but for all parties involved.
With that said, I will be attending Exposure and Profit in Toronto, Canada this May. It will be my first online marketing event and I am looking forward to learning and growing but most importantly, to connect with like-minded people. Those people may some day become my partners and friends.
So I leave you with this thought. How can you add dimension to your experience while participating in business networking events?