Guest blog written by – Julie Lawlor, WestShore Chamber Executive Director
Do you LOVE networking events? You’re not alone!
Do networking events SCARE you? You’re not alone!
Networking events are a great way to build business relationships, friendships, and sales! They are most effective when you can attend consistently, building your relationships over time. The first thing to do is find a community that is the right fit for you. There are 5 chambers of commerce and numerous non-profit and business groups that offer networking events on southern Vancouver Island. The WestShore Chamber offers a “try before your buy” access to two of our networking events, and other groups will do something similar. Check out our Business Resources webpage to find out more.
If networking events are not your favourite thing, you may want to look for opportunities which are more structured. We offer a monthly “Coffee Talk” which we cap at 30 people, as this event creates space for us to go around in a circle and everyone introduces themselves and says something about their organization and the types of connections they are hoping to make. It works really well both to break the ice and to create connection and follow-up conversations between those attending. Another option is to bring a guest, which could be a friend, spouse or colleague. Larger networking events, like mixers, can feel overwhelming when you’re new to a community and having someone attending with can make it much more enjoyable.
If you love talking to people, I know I can speak on behalf of most chambers of commerce when I say thank you for going over to talk to those who look like networking events are new to them! Creating a welcoming community is only possible when those attending have that mindset, and every friendly chat makes a difference.
Whether this is your first or fiftieth networking event, making genuine connections is key. Business is personal on southern Vancouver Island and by that I mean that people do business with those they like, know, and trust.
Here are four top tips:
- DO come to the event with an idea of three questions you may like to ask another attendee
- DO think in advance about what you will share with people about your business and about who you are
- If in your conversations you discover a mutual interest or opportunity, DO ask there and then for a business card or contact details
- But DON’T use those details to sign someone up to a mailing list without their agreement, as in our experience that shuts conversations down instead of opening them up.
And if you’d like to find out more about the WestShore Chamber of Commerce community, you can check us out at westshore.bc.ca. We’re here to help!
WorkLink Employment Society proudly offers free employment services for local businesses. This includes the use of our Job Board, listings in our free enewsletter, meeting space and hosting job fairs or information sessions to highlight your business. Contact us to learn more about our free employment services and resources: 250.478.9525 or email@example.com