By now everyone knows that networking is the core of any entrepreneurial venture; Networking is marketing and marketing is key in promoting yourself, a service or product. Image and reputation (-thanks David Mullings) play powerful roles in the success (or lack) of any business. What is often forgotten is the fact that we don’t need to attend ‘networking’ functions and conferences to do so. We can interact and market in our day to day goings-on. The gym, the gas station, the bank, the supermarket, a child’s party are great untapped sources of contacts, customers, consumers and patrons.
I have always been a socialista; as a child I somehow knew the power of having certain contacts. I remember tugging at my dad’s shirt compelling him to introduce me to any police officer I saw anywhere…for some reason I believed I would need to have them as close friends (hmm..What was I thinking I would need them for??). It was the same for just about any professional, as I walked with a ‘contacts notebook’ to jot numbers…was so cute…I was like 10!
But this weekend, after reading "How to Work a Room" by Susan RoAne, I decided to go steps further with my networking. As a guest at a sweet 16 for the daughter of a friend of a friend - my friend’s grandparents could no longer attend, so my husband and I were the replacements. We were 2 of 4 black persons in a mostly Jewish circle and I thought to myself "self….let’s put our reading into practice!"
I took my friend’s mom’s hand and we took over the dance floor. Soon my husband joined in and we got others involved too. People were rooting for us and asking us to show them our dance moves etc; complimenting my husband and myself on what a great couple we seem to be…
I saw a couple on the dance floor make their way to the bar (open bar yipeeee) I followed so as to strike up a conversation. We chatted for a bit about their 28 year marriage, their kids, exchanged introductions and bingo…I left my mark. Similarly, I greeted the hosts (the parents) and commended them on an awesome event during the party and on our departure. I circled the room and shook hands with the people at most tables and met other professionals present at the event.
Yesterday I got a call from my friend who invited us informing me that we were the talk of the party and "everyone is still talking" about the awesome couple. There is now an open invitation to any event the family is hosting!
The point is…even those of us who think we have the keenest networking skills…with a CONSCIOUS effort to do more, we can make marketing magic! I did not market my upcoming online magazine, YaadNoyz Magazine, since it is still in the works, but I laid a foundation to chat business in the future.
Make eye contact today with someone and spark up a conversation..watch it work magic for your business life or even your personal life! Tomorrow I will discuss a few of my "conversation-starter-uppers". Talk about the weather, the gas price, the color of her dress…be honest and confident and leave your mark. You can have them at hello!!!
Paula Yee Sing-Edwards
Image & Identity Consultant
YaadNoyz Production LLC