David Atlanta: The Secret to Expanding Your Business
Ahh, networking. It’s probably the second oldest profession. Long long ago some prostitute (the oldest profession) probably decided that he/she wasn’t getting any more business in his or her cave, and decided it was time to meet new potential clients in other caves. Thus networking for business was born. Since then, networking has become an art. Networking is a combination of social skills, business acumen, and unadulterated confidence.
These days social networking has take the forefront and become an essential tool in our networking arsenal. But what about person to person networking? It is not a lost art. There are lots of opportunities to hone your craft and make those essential connections. MAAP (Metro Atlanta Association of Professionals) frequently provides excellent occasions to rub elbows with quality gay professionals in our area. It doesn’t matter what product or service you are peddling, networking person-to-person is an ideal way to expand your market.
You may be asking yourself, ‘why come to an LGBT networking group?’ MAAP President & CEO, Joshua D. Lorenz has the perfect answer: “We are in a point in time that things are really changing for the LGBT community. Networking strengthens the bonds of our community and brings us closer together. When this really makes a difference is when we get involved with out Allied community…This is why MAAP so strongly believes in our allies, and we call ourselves an LGBTA organization, with that A standing for Allies.”
Many of us know the basics of presenting yourself in a business networking group, but Lorenz has some wonderful tips to share that has helped many members of MAAP expand their business opportunities, obtain job leads, and just simply meet new and great people.
- Bring business cards, seems obviously, but people forget these! (You can print 500 for $10 on Vistaprint.)
- Find at least three people you don’t know and introduce yourself to them. If you’re shy, you may find it useful to come prepared with ice breaker questions to help the conversation. A few suggestions are what is one of your goals this year, what is your favorite foods, and what is your favorite vacation destination.
- Be prepared to share:
- What you do professionally
- What you are looking for professionally
- How your connections can help you
- And if you’re in sales, your perfect referral (example being perfect referral for a Realtor is anyone looking to buy a house)
- If you’re interested in the organization, seek out volunteer and board service opportunities.
- The most important piece, follow up with those you met in the next few days via email and LinkedIn connection. Send a quick email saying It was nice to meet you at MAAP just a reminder this is who I am and this is what I’m looking for. Please be sure to let me know how I can help you… something like that.
In the end, person-to-person networking leaves a stronger impression on the people you meet. They have a face, a voice, and a message that connects them to you. Down the road, when they are looking for a professional and on time…I don’t know…Banana Peeler, you’ll be the first one that they call. All because you took the time to extend your hand and share how good of a Banana Peeler you are.
MAAP offers many different opportunities for networking. On Thursday, April 16 they offer Speed Networking. In fact, they hold networking events every third Thursday of every month. It’s the perfect chance to master your skills and meet some truly wonderful LGBTA friends in our area.
Go to maapatl.org for a full listing of their events and to join their networking group.