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Friday, June 05, 2009

MASTERING THE MEMBERSHIP MAZE: Use Summer to Build Your Network at the Chamber

Mastering the Membership Maze with Glen Gould

Summer time is here! School is out and everyone is looking forward to back yard barbecues and summer libations! It's the perfect time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, your well-deserved reward.

Which is why right now is the perfect time to redouble your networking efforts. Chambers across the country are beginning to go into "summer mode". Fewer programs, lower attendance, and a general more relaxed attitude may lead you to believe that summer is lost time. Don't fall into that trap.

Summer is the best time to focus on chamber networking. Now is the time to follow up on all the connections you've made over the winter and spring. You have the time to connect and develop relationships with other chamber members and they have time to take your call and meet with you. Summer provides a built-in period where everyone is more relaxed and you can more easily reach people.

Begin by examining the contacts you've made over the past three months. Divide the contacts into prospective buyers of your products and services and prospective networking partners. Then set aside one day a week to focus on really connecting with these two groups.

Really connecting means that you will schedule face time with each person. Call them and ask to meet for a cup of coffee, lunch, or just at their office to better get to know them and how you can help each other. Be certain to focus on the potential benefits for the person with whom you wish to meet and honor that promise by being fully prepared when you meet.

Being prepared includes knowing the purpose of the meeting. If you're connecting with a potential client, identify key objectives for the meeting and benefits the prospect will gain by meeting with you. If it's a potential networking partner, outline how connecting with you can drive more connections and business for them. In both cases, create an agenda for the meeting.

Develop a plan and a goal or outcome for you and your meeting partner. Have it in writing and advise your meeting partner of your intentions before you meet. Then when you arrive at the meeting, share in writing the agenda you have discussed. And be certain to leave time to get off track and still finish on time. Begin and end on time. If your meeting reaches the end of the allotted time and you are both still engaged, ask for an extension of time. "We've reached the end of our allotted time but it seems we still have things to discuss. Would you like to continue or would you like to schedule another appointment?"

After the meeting send a card thanking them for their time and recapping the meeting. Email is fine, but only when sent in conjunction with a written note or card. And follow up as you promised.

When you develop relationships by having personal one-on-one meetings during the summer, you'll be way ahead when members start to flock back to chamber meetings in the fall. Everyone will know you, and that's the first step in being known, liked and trusted. This will make all the newcomers want to know you as well. Become known by having one-on-one meetings. You'll build more relationships and win more business.

Glen Gould

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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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