Granted, everyone does not show up at a business networking event carrying the same material to enhance their benefit from the experience. I personally have found myself without business cards at business networking events I regularly attend. And, I suppose if there is one thing NO ONE should be without at a business networking event, it has to be business cards. But, are business cards all you really need to be prepared to take full advantage of all that a typical business networking event in the 21st century has to offer?
Choose a venue to gain advantage of resources
I make a point of saying the "21st century" because what is possible now out in the public square far exceeds what was possible for most of the 20th century. Now, you have business networking events in restaurants that are Wi-Fi hot spots. Many are equipped with big-screen HDTV screens. At the weekly business networking event I attend that HDTV screen is actually made available for my use - thanks to very cooperative restaurant manager and a Google Chromecast devise which I happen to own and can hook up to the HDTV and show slides from an online website called Prezi.com.
Since we hear a great deal today about the importance of "knowing, liking and trusting" people we meet at business networking events, I want to recommend the use of slides to help make that happen with the people who decide to meet with me one-on-one. You can do this with most any smartphone, tablet or laptop. You don't even have to be in a Wi-Fi hotspot to make that happen. However, being in a Wi-Fi hotspot definitely expands your options when it comes to both entertaining and educating an audience.
Advertise with all of your props
While I do regularly show up at the Coral Springs Business Connection Coffee Meetup every Tuesday with my Google Chromebook and Chromecast Dongle, that is not all I bring. I also bring lots of other stuff that is non-electronic. For example, I bring a Winn-Dixie Grocery Bag. However, this is no ordinary grocery bag. It's showcases a promotional sign promoting the coffee meetup. That sign is actually a car door magnet held to the grocery bag by velro. There is a sign on both sides of the grocery bag.
That bag is not empty, either. It contains other business networking tools - including flourescent promotional stickers which promote all the coffee meetup locations in South Florida. There are also stamped envelopes containing prospecting letters that need addressing and signatures from some of the people I meet. There is a raffle box for a 50/50 raffle and of course, raffle tickets.
Referral requests - powerful networking tools in Groups (or Clusters)
But, by far the most important tool in my grocery bag is blank 3x5 index cards. These cards will be passed out and shared with others at the restaurant. Why? So they can write a referral request and hand it off to someone else to execute. Why is this so important? Because business networking is not all about sales, but building relationships with other people that actually means something. If the relationship is not doing something that matters, there is no benefit to anyone. With blank index cards I help facilitate the giving and receiving of third-party referrals.
As we all know, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Well, why not come to business networking events equipped to help deliver success to someone else in such as way that it reflects nicely on you? Indeed, orchestrate a win/win paradigm.
Lamar Morgan is a small business columnist and collaborative evergreen marketer. Through his firm, he creates marketing tools that do not get thrown away. To learn more about Lamar's background, visit his LinkedIn profile. To learn more about his company, Synergistic Business Marketing, visit his LinkedIn company profile. To learn more about SBM's "Better Together Approach, " visit Synergistic Business Marketing - Marketing Florida & The USA with Lamar J. Morgan.