When it comes to meeting new people and networking, most people think of the traditional places to go. These include chamber of commerce mixers, networking groups, association meetings, service organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis etc and even meet-up groups not to mention all of the online forums where one can network.
As a woman who was married for almost thirty years and then entered the strange and sometimes scary world of being single, I decided to venture into the world of online dating. Now for someone who practices the two minute networker method of not listening to what your mother taught you and to talk to strangers, I was reluctant to go out into the “bar scene” and not really wanting to do the “speed dating” events but loved the “speed networking” programs.
They were always an easy way to meet multiple people and make fast connections that could be followed-up later. It seemed less intimidating to go on line and “shop” for a match than to go to a speed dating event. The interesting thing about this and the reason for writing this article is to share how many great business connections I made while searching online for my perfect “match” as the song Matchmaker Matchmaker plays from Fiddler on the Roof. I also found some great men to date as well but that is an article for another day.
What I found was that first, people were not always honest. Second, and yes, feel free to smile on this one, 6 feet to many men is really 5’10” (I am 5’ 11”) and third, most men are honest about their profession but not about their passions in life such as sports, travel and leisure. It is more of what they wish they did than what they actually do. Finding this, I start reading the online dating sites looking for referral partners and even potential prospects and clients with the intention of making this totally reciprocal in business as opposed to finding my next date. Now I am sure Match.com did not have this in mind when they launched their site. If only they knew that I had received a paid speaking engagement, several unpaid speaking engagements that resulted in great sales as well as a few clients to write elevator pitches for and even found a best friend on their site, they might be surprised.
So if you are tired of the usual networking places and are single, try checking out the online dating sites and searching by profession and geography. The paid sites are typically better than the free online dating sites since those people that are more serious are usually willing to spend a small monthly fee to find their “match”.
How do you get started? Simply put up a very professional photo of yourself, write a solid profile and have a creative screen name that is somewhat catchy. Make sure your profile exudes positive energy, put details about what you do for work focusing on what makes it so enjoyable for you and present yourself in a way that makes it appealing for the opposite sex to want to meet you. Remember that your goal is to create a new contact for business or friendship, not romance even though you are on a dating site. A new twist to an old way of doing things.
The next step is to start your search. Put in the criteria that you are looking for such as profession, location and perhaps a common interest such as music or sports. Once your find some people who look like the type of person you might want to connect with professionally, write an email that is honest, and tell the person why you are writing. You might start with something like, I am writing because I thought we might have some areas of common interest related to business. Then write exactly why you think this is the case. I can promise you that the recipient will be surprised since they are typically on the site looking for romance but perhaps your forthright approach might set you apart from everyone else and you just might get a warm and welcoming response. After all, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Exchange a few emails and then if it looks like this might be someone you would want to get to know in a professional way, set a date to meet for coffee. Make sure that you let your “date” know that you are interested for professional reasons so there is no other “agenda” for the meeting. Go have coffee and see where it goes.
Remember, your online dating profile is a marketing tool. Be honest and know that your goal is to attract quality referral partners, centers of influence or possibly to be a client or referral source for the people you meet. Exude confidence and have an open welcoming attitude. The worst that can happen is you will be back where you started from or the best that can happen is that you may meet your prince or princess charming and find some great networking partners. Matchmaker Matchmaker, make me a perfect match. Go out and set a “fire” under you to network in the most unconventional of ways.
Rhonda L Sher: The Sloganator Rhonda L Sher was born talking. She fell in love with words as a child and has never stopped communicating since. Her father once commented that she was vaccinated with a phonograph needle. Not only has Rhonda inherited her father's humor, but it's that quick wit that has become the signature that has helped propel her clients to stardom.Acclaimed Keynote and workshop leader, Rhonda has authored two books, "The 2 Minute Networker" and "The ABC's of LinkedIn," "Get LinkedIn or Get Left Out" as well as numerous action guides, articles, workbooks, jingles and corporate slogans.
In addition to writing, Rhonda uses her gift of gab as a featured keynote speaker, consultant and corporate trainer throughout North America. She has successfully taught hundreds of business men and women on the art of business networking and written hundreds of elevator pitches and slogans.Rhonda's greatest talent lies in her ability to create fabulously catchy slogans that are memorable, upbeat, easy to repeat and create instant brand identification. In addition to the books, audio and video, Rhonda creates slogans and taglines for her clients which are memorable, bring them business and make them, money. She works with you to create a corporate slogan for your business that sets you apart from your competition. Her creativity and energy will tap into your customer's mind and have your phone ringing off the hook with new business.
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