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The Networking Hat Trick

There are three main types of networking events available to professionals today:

1) Meetup events. Examples of Meetup events include business after hours, socials, mixers, coffee contact events, rotary club meetings, chamber of commerce meetings, and even live events coordinated amongst LinkedIN groups. These events typically feature a speaker, opportunities to mingle with other professionals, and sometimes even fun components like raffles or drawings. Meetup type events are a great way to relax, make a few new business connections, and generally enjoy yourself in a business setting – you’ll likely learn something new as well if there is a speaker at the event.

2) Speed Networking. An evolution of speed dating, speed networking events are becoming very popular as a way for professionals to make a large quantity of new connections in a short amount of time. Here in northeast Ohio a few well known speed networking events include; the Sales and Marketing Executives Grand Slam Networking event, COSE’s Swap25 events, and Hour of Power Speed Networking events. Speed networking is the ideal opportunity to create a ton of new connections that have the potential to develop into relationships and even new business down the road.

3) Structured “tips groups”. Sometimes called tip groups, lead groups, or referral groups, these organizations exist to facilitate a flow of referrals from one group member to another. BNI is perhaps the best known example of this category of a structured tip group. Other notable groups with chapters in northeast Ohio include AmSpirit Business Connections, The Business Exchange, and International Referral Network (IRN). For individuals looking for direct referrals to decision making prospects the weekly meetings these groups hold is an ideal way to generate new business.

Each type of networking event offers its attendees a different value proposition and none serves them all. To effectively network, you need to participate in each type in some proportion. For example, I attend the Chamber’s functions and TECA (the Entrepreneurs Club of America) for support and education. I attend Hour of Power Speed Networking events to quickly meet new professionals and increase the size of my business network. I then round out my networking experience by being involved with AmSpirit Business Connections because I depend on a steady flow of qualified referrals to grow my businesses.

Returning to my opening sports analogy, if being involved in each category of networking group were to earn me a point in the game of networking I would have scored a hat trick. Look at your own networking activities. How many points have you scored?

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About the Author

Kelcey Lehrich, AmSpirit Business Connections
Beachwood, OH 44122

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