Why Networking Is Important.
Don't underestimate the power of word of mouth. If you are a small business owner, chances are, you've experienced it first hand. It's true that when you're customers are happy with your services, they will undoubtedly tell others about it. Like the time you received a new customer, thanks to the one you've had for over ten years. Then there was that time when someone you met at a networking luncheon sent a customer your way...
That is one thing I love most about the Greater Lansing business community. We tend to band together and support one another. One of the ways that we can build our network of awesome businesses to work with is by networking in itself.
Finding the time and the valuable in networking can be a tricky balance. Will you get a new lead for every networking event you attend? Probably not. But you have the opportunity to meet with other Lansing small business owners and build connections. Just as you have to build top-of-mind-awareness (TOMA) for your business, you have to do that with yourself as an individual. We all want to be seen and known as the expert in our field. How else better to do that than to meet others face-to-face.
WHERE TO NETWORK
There are numerous networking events in the Greater Lansing area. Some cater to a niche market of small business owners, executives, industry specific, etc. Businesses like the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Center can help guide you on the events around town.
Lansing Chamber Events : The Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce holds a number of events each month. In addition, LRCC members can submit their own events to the Chamber events calendar. Most events are free for Chamber members. Be sure to check it out!
The Small Business Development Center Workshops/Events : An underused resource right here in Lansing is the Small Business Development Center. Not only do they offer business consulting, but they hold workshops and events. View the events calendar here.
WHEN TO NETWORK
Remember that people like to follow people, more than they like to follow businesses. This applies to real life and not just social media. So remember that you are always "on". You are always representing your business. Whenever you are out and about listen and look for opportunities to introduce yourself or learn more about someone's job, business or hobby.
I strongly encourage you to make it a goal to attend at least one networking event a month. Try out a few different events to see which is your cup of tea and stick with it. The more you attend on a regular basis, the more people will remember your name, remember your business and keep you as a contact and resource for the future.
LANSING NETWORKING EVENTS
Here are a few Lansing networking events I attend, have attended or plan to attend in the future:
The Drinking Lunch : Occurs every third Thursday of the month at The Beer Grotto from 2pm-4pm. Next event is December 17th. Learn More (Free)
Northwood University Lunch with a Punch : Occurs on the third Wednesday at the start of every quarter. This event is held at Devos Graduate School. Next event is December 16th from 12:00pm - 1:30pm. Contact McKenna Long to RSVP. (Free)
The Hatching : Occurs the last Thursday of each month, from 6pm - 8pm at Dublin Square in East Lansing, MI. Learn More (Free)
Wake Up Old Town : Occurs the first Friday of every month from 9am-10am. Locations vary each month so check out their website for more information. Next event is December 4, 2015 from 9am - 10am. (Free)
It's time to get out there and start networking! I'd love to learn more about you and your business. Maybe I'll see you at one of the networking events above, if not, let's do coffee and chat!