Experiences In The D | The Blog for Visit Detroit
The Visit Detroit Blog is part of The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCVB).
How to Make Networking Work for You
Does networking work? In a word, yes. The reality is, people like doing business with people they know. There's a certain amount of comfort and trust that comes from using a banker, realtor, or fill-in-the-blank that you've met in person than simply searching Google and hoping for the best.
The key to successful networking is to do it right. Think of networking as a chance to meet new people, ask questions and help solve their challenges. You may not be the resource they need right now, but you might be able to refer them to someone who is. When you create that connection, both parties will appreciate it. In fact, they'll be more likely to keep you top of mind for their own referral networks.
Some folks are naturally better networkers than others, and it can feel awkward at first, but with some practice, networking can become a valuable tool to expand your business contacts.
"I've certainly gotten lots of business by networking," said Peter Watt, sales representative for Cavalier Pictures in Detroit, who regularly attends membership mixers hosted by the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. "It's a great way to connect with potential clients as well as to maintain existing relationships." Watt advises networking novices to speak professionally, dress like you know what you're doing and bring plenty of business cards.
Here are a few more tips to get you started:
- Most people who attend networking events are there for the same reason. So don't be shy about approaching people and introducing yourself and your company.
- Meet as many people as you can. Show a genuine interest in their business but be respectful of their time. (Don't monopolize the conversation).
- Look for networking groups and events that are a good fit for you and your business. Mixers can be fun, lively social opportunities to build relationships. Some will include activities, games or other ice breakers as built-in conversation starters.
- Smile and have fun. The more you've practiced and polished your 15 second "elevator pitch", the more comfortable you'll be. Confidence is an attractive attribute.
The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau hosts six industry mixers a year at member facilities, attracting about 30 to 60 hospitality professionals on average. The diverse membership base includes hoteliers, attractions, florists, caterers, event planners, transportation providers and more.
For Sheri Taylor, sales manager of the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in downtown Detroit, these events are also educational. "I'm able to learn what's new or different about businesses around the city. It helps me when I'm speaking to guests to be able to tell them about the different venues, restaurants and events," said Taylor. As an added benefit, Taylor says she's often able to put faces with the names of people she works with by phone or email, but may not have met before in person.
The next DMCVB member mixer is April 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Lucky Strike Novi, an upscale bowling alley and entertainment center. Mixers are free to members. If you're not a member but would like more information, call Leanna Sullivan at 313-202-1852.