I just came back from Entrepreneur Magazine’s Win Strategies conference in Long Beach. Over 700 entrepreneurs attended. It was a remarkable event, sponsored by Verizon Wireless. I was particularly impressed by the projects represented and the speakers. My favorites included Starr Hall, who is a master of social networking and publicity; Scott Gerber – who gave the low down on what it takes to raise capital for your business; Bruce Kimbrell – who made me want to get a job at Disneyland, and Ivan Meisner, master networker and founder of BNI.
Mr. Meisner, emphasized the importance of face to face networking. He suggests that business owners have at least 4 models.
- Casual – An example would be a Chamber of Commerce. This is where you have large numbers of business owners from all professions. It is not exclusive.
- Knowledge Based – This may be a trade association (same business) or a venue where mentoring takes place.
- Strong Contact – There is 1 person per profession. BNI, Le Tip or other leads groups.
- Online – Social Networking
Those who are successful at networking spend at least 6 hours per week doing it.
Notice if people at a networking event are grouped in 2’s, 3’s or 4’s. Are the groups open or closed? A closed group makes it hard for another person to join in. If you find your group is closed, open it up so others can participate.
Starr Hall, who was surprised not more people were tweeting their children to take out the garbage, offered a valuable tip:
When updating your Facebook status, make it ½ personal and ½ business. That way you create relationships with your audience, and they can tell you are a serious business owner. Her example was something like,
“I’m sitting at Starbucks sipping a mocha, while I finish my article for Microsoft.”
So you see, what you are eating IS important.
Scott Gerber pointed out that not all business owners need capital and, if you are seeking it, you should do it in a series of steps. Work with smaller amounts at first, and as you progress, increase the amount you are asking for. His presentation went into great detail. I can’t wait to get the slides because my fingers could not write as fast as he was talking. The entire room was eager for more when time ran out.
I was a little surprised that a percentage of entrepreneurs came to the event without business cards. Even if your business has not been fully formed, it is wise to be contactable. Create a plain card with contact info only, but at least have a card. Flyers, brochures or napkins don’t count. They often get tossed. Does your email and/or website work? I’ve been to plenty a website that is simply a domain name that hasn’t been set up yet.
I wish I had cloned myself so I could have taken all the classes. Next time.