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Tag archives for business networking

SureToMeet is a technology company with decades of experience in the events and one-to-one marketing fields.  We have married those two areas of expertise in a new product design — but due to the death of our founding CEO, are struggling to find a new home for this innovative system that can make a real difference in the business networking niche.  

SureToMeet includes three innovative, experienced R&D designers:  Chris Allen is an Academy Award winning systems programmer and designer.  Carolyn Allen is a longtime marketing communications and Internet marketer.  David Hylton is an international communications and business strategist.  

Our founder, Cliff Allen, was a systems designer and marketer who wrote some of the early books on Internet marketing, who created one of the first event registration systems as well as a sales and marketing unification system much like Salesforce.com.  

Together we have designed, patented, and put together the implementation plan for the MatchUp system. MatchUp is a complete system for event organizers, attendees and sponsors to bring together compatible people face-to-face at events.  

It takes humility to know when you need to ask for help.  After struggling for almost five years to complete the patent application process and receive the patent, and developing the business plan, marketing strategy and detailed technology wireframe — we realize that the system we’ve designed needs a bigger company than ours to bring it to the marketplace.

So we are looking for a home for our child.  The ideal candidate will be an established events management or events services company who has a relationship with event organizers and sponsors.  They will also have in-house tech resources to rapidly develop the system.

Why would they do this?  Because the revenue potential is even greater than the valuable contribution they would be able to provide their clients by cutting the cost and inefficiencies of networking the old fashioned way.  This system provides a smooth pathway to development of both a Minimum Viable Product and future enhancements.  And the adopting company will have three dedicated founders to help with rapid development and implementation.

We have heart — as well as the desire to make a valuable contribution to business and the careers of people who rely on business networking.  In this day and age of social media and crowd sourcing, we are asking for your help so we can help others.  We would appreciate any assistance you can provide in finding a home for this innovative solution to business networking.

Carolyn Allen
CEO, SureToMeet

Slow cooking is catching on!  We’re realizing that it takes time to make something really good.  The same often holds for innovation.  It takes time to fully recognize the need and flesh out the details of a workable solution. 

Twenty years ago my husband and I owned a high tech marketing agency and the need for productive networking was palpable, but the technology wasn’t there yet.  We helped entrepreneurs connect with the support team they needed — investors, partners, clients and even some employees and vendors.  Matching people was difficult.  The frustration inspired us to think of solutions and we often discussed how matchmaking was a time honored tradition that was needed in business. 

So the history of MatchUp, our matching system, really started about 25 years ago.  But the technology wasn’t there.  We witnessed several generations of solutions being tried with gadgets, with online websites and leads clubs.  None of them were very efficient.

Seven years ago we recognized that the smartphone plus our own software platform would make an effective matching system possible. The additional ingredient was the event organizer who could tailor the matching criteria to their attendees’ needs and offers.  We began the process of designing a system that would optimize this human-technology team.  We soon added sponsors to the mix because finding good suppliers is as important to every company.

My husband died in 2012, just as we were applying for our utility patent.  We were ahead of the curve, but the R&D process slowed as my son and I took over the business and R&D process.  

We’re now seeing the emergence of networking apps that begin to meet the need I saw throughout my marketing and design career — but none of the services available handle the depth or breadth of the need we found in American businesses.

My family has pursued a solution to this problem for decades, and we have a solution at our fingertips — MatchUp.  But we need the right partner to make this valuable contribution to business networking a reality. 

If you know a company looking for a networking solution — let me know — or tell them that we’re looking for a quality events company who will be able to deliver a significant boost to business networking at events.

Carolyn Allen,
CEO, SureToMeet

 

As a communications strategist, I recognized a big problem among our entrepreneurial clients — they needed a matchmaker to help them find the right partners, investors, clients and staff members.  My husband and I owned a high tech marketing agency and the need for productive networking was palpable, but the technology wasn’t there yet.  This is the time for smartphone enabled business networking

Our MatchUp (TM) solution that combines the Event Organizer with the Smart Phone & Computer System helps Attendees match with each other at the event.  We help sort out compatibilities with the algorithm.  The Organizer narrows the search with parameters… and the Attendee can fine tune their profiles to find the match they need today!

But the human factor is so important.  You can be matched with the perfectly compatible person, but if you do not engage in a meaningful conversation and then followup, your experience is useless.

Based on our experiences at networking and event organizing over the years, we’ve learned these tips for networking at events:

  1.  Know who you want to meet
  2.  Ask for referrals from people who know you…
  3.  Follow up, follow up, follow up

Know who you want to meet

Who do you need today to make progress in your job or your career?  Do you need a partner, an investor, clients or staff members?  Do you need someone part-time or full-time?  Know what you are looking for — the function in your life — and who the most likely candidates are.  That profile shapes YOUR profile!

Ask for Referrals 

If you don’t have a networking system available, use the old-fashioned one — ask for referrals.  But be specific and ask for the most common two or three attributes you need to find.  Your referrer needs to ask the right questions and give a bit of your information to help make a human match.

Follow up!

Following up is about making a business friendship.  It’s about learning more about each other and learning to trust one another’s judgment.  And it’s a long process to develop a really good contact.  Try to meet again soon.  Go for coffee together or meet at the next group meeting you have in common.  Send email.  Connect in social media and send short messages that might be of value to your contact.

Don’t overwhelm your new business contact, but connecting 3 or 4 times in the first month of your relationship can solidify your interest in them and flesh out the value that you bring to their life — and vice versa!

Make your business friendship friendly.  Don’t fall into gripes about your industry or colleagues.  Do promote positive ideas about how to make life better for both of you.  And share tidbits of helpful knowledge.  This is how trust is born and nurtured.

Successful networking!
Carolyn

You have a supply chain inside your own company

and many of us have a supply chain outside the company.  We’ll discuss how to network within your company first.

A supply chain is a group of people whose job it is to get results and give aid to fellow employees working to achieve results.  

Some network members are in your own department, such as your supervisor and your contracts administrator.  Some are in departments before and after your role.  For example, if you are in sales — you need to know about inventory (before your department) and shipping (after your department), as well as others, such as order entry and order payments??.  

If you know these people by name, share some stories, and let each other know how your work optimally, you can get your work done much faster and smoother.  That process of getting acquainted personally and business-wise is productive internal business networking.

Step 1:  Write down the flow chart of your function… and the people/positions that come before you and after you in the flow of achieving your assigned results.  Well, maybe first, you need to identify what results really matter in your job!

Step 2. Identify the people at your own job level… and the people above and below your level. Meet them and offer them a token of your respect (information, cup of coffee, department ad specialties, etc.)  Be helpful to them by asking for their job goal and their wisdom and showing how you hope to support their goals.

Step 3: Add notes to your calendar to follow-up at least monthly.  Share helpful information (not trade secrets!) and ask for their input on what’s happening in the company or industry.  Ask how you can work together better.

Step 4.  Follow through.  Do what you said you would do.  It’s that simple.

Step 5.  Buy a box of “Thank You” cards and use them after every significant piece of shared information, referral, insight or connection your team provides you.  Be appreciative, but don’t gush.  Be sure to invite key members of your supply chain to a dinner or party at least once a year.  This is for their benefit to network with your trusted network!

Are you always on the lookout for a good book or article on networking techniques? Here’s one we spotted: Never Eat Alone by well-known networker Keith Ferrazzi,  a “how to network” book — tips and techniques on how to grow your contact network.

It’s a pleasant surprise to find that it’s really about growing relationships — mostly business relationships.

Networks vs. Relationships

You might wonder why there’s a distinction between networking and building relationships.

If you’ve ever been to a networking event and exchanged business cards with someone, only to never talk with that person again, then you were networking.

However, if you’ve had continuing interaction with that person — perhaps working on a project together or referring business to each other — then you have developed a networking contact into a relationship that will hopefully continue to grow and be valuable to both of you.

In Never Eat Alone Ferrazzi explains the value of having access to people who can help you succeed. One of the keys to obtaining access to influential people is “reciprocity” — making sure that over time the relationship benefits both people. Sometimes you’ll need the other person for assistance, and sometime later the other person may ask you for help. The key is that neither person “keeps score” trying to equalize the amount of help each person gives the other.

Check Your Compass

A key aspect to developing a mutually beneficial connection is knowing how you and the other person can help each other.

This requires that you have a clearly defined mission, or general direction, that you’re heading. Those of us who work independently sometimes think we need to be very specialized and focus on doing one thing so we can have one “brand image.” However, networking only within a specialized area limits the range of people you meet.

Although I’ve worked in technology, advertising, media, sales, and other areas, there is a common thread to what I do: help business people communicate with customers better.

So, instead of being concerned about people thinking I lack career focus, I prefer to look at my overall “mission” or “purpose” that guides me in a general direction.

In other words, you don’t need a AAA road map with the complete route highlighted. But it does mean you need to check your career compass frequently to make sure the relationships you create will help move you in the right general direction.

Build It Before You Need It

Relationships take time to nurture. You need experience in dealing with another person so you’ll know how you can help and support each other.

This is why it’s important to build your network of contacts before you need to ask a contact for help or a referral.

It may be years before you need (or can help) someone in your network. This means it’s important to take good notes so you can later find a person’s information when you need it.

You may have heard a person described as having a “Golden Rolodex,” meaning they’ve collected contact information on a large number of valuable contacts. The use of paper-based Rolodex cards has declined in favor of contact management software (such as the contact manager in SureToMeet), but the objective is the same — you need to be able to quickly and easily retrieve contact data about the people in your network.

Food Builds Relationships

The title of Ferrazzi’s book, Never Eat Alone, might lead you to believe that taking customers to lunch is the key to networking. Yes, lunch with prospects and customers is great. But he actually focuses part of the book on a different meal — dinner.

He tells several stories about how dinner parties became a key part of his networking strategy. He explains exactly how to have a dinner party that’s not only fun for everyone, but helps you accomplish your networking goals.

This is one of the techniques I’ve gleaned from his book and put into practice. I’ve hosted a number of small dinner gatherings recently, usually at restaurants convenient for everybody in the group.

One of the purposes of the gatherings has been to introduce people who don’t know each other. It’s amazing how often people are interested in meeting new people over dinner.

Online Networking vs. Face-to-Face Networking

In the past few years a number of social networking Web sites have sprung up. LinkedIn and Ryze are probably the two best sites for online business networking. The challenge in using these sites is what to do after you’ve identified a potential contact. Do you use that Web site’s messaging system to introduce yourself? Do you contact them directly? Unfortunately for many people, these connection sites don’t work as well as users expect.

I’ve met many people online in discussion groups and forums, and have enjoyed those conversations. However, the most beneficial of those relationships included meeting them later face-to-face.

While face-to-face networking usually produces greater results than just interacting with someone online, the ease of online networking makes it a terrific technique, too.

In fact, for most people, face-to-face networking is easier to do and has greater (and more lasting) results than online networking. I’m confident that over time we’ll see more people benefit from online networking. But for now the question is how to meet people face-to-face who can become a valuable part of your contact network. This usually means attending events where you are sure to meet like-minded people — people who share your interests and passions.

In Never Eat Alone Ferrazzi details the strategies he uses to meet the people he wants to meet at events and conferences. For face-to-face networking like this, the event calendar sites (such as SureToMeet, of course) can help you find events where you can meet the people you want to meet.

Food for Thought

If you’ve gotten tired of networking because it didn’t seem to work, or if you’re looking for ways to turn your contact network into a valuable resource, pick up a copy of Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone.

It’ll provide the “why” of networking that’ll help you make better use of those “how to” networking books and articles that we’ve all collected.


Cliff Allen is the co-founder of SureToMeet.com. He is the co-author of the book One-to-One Web Marketing; 2nd Ed., published by John Wiley & Sons.

Have you ever wondered if your networking activities are as effective as they could be? I think all of us who benefit from business and social relationships occasionally ask ourselves that question.One reason to be concerned is that good networking skills —– like good athletic or business skills — require study and practice. But we need more than “how to” skills — we need to know why we’re networking. In other words, we also need a networking strategy.

A book by two expert networkers covers both the “why” and “how” of online networking. The Virtual Handshake, by David Teten and Scott Allen, is an excellent guide for using a wide range of Internet tools and techniques to expand your network of contacts.

Networking Tools, Tips & Techniques

Much of the book contains a tremendous amount of information about using social software tools, such as!

  • Social networking sites (such as LinkedIn, Ryze, Ecademy)
  • Blogs
  • E-mail
  • Instant messaging
  • Discussion forums and lists

Creating A Networking Strategy

There are many reasons to network with other people, but I usually group them into three broad categories:

  • Business networking — Includes sales, business development, partnering, career advancement, etc,
  • Social Networking — Includes activities with friends, dating, etc,
  • Civic Networking — Includes volunteering and participating in civic activities and meetings, etc.

Each area requires a different strategy so that you can nurture the right relationships for each purpose.

In Part One of their book the authors describe the “Seven Keys to a Powerful Network:”

  • Your character
  • Your competence
  • Relevance of the people you know
  • Information you have about the people in your network
  • Strength of your Relationships
  • Number of people in your network
  • Diversity of the people in your network

What’s more, the authors have several chapters of practical advice on how to improve the quality of your network in each area.

These chapters are great to review monthly or quarterly to help keep your networking activities focused and on track.

Putting It All together

The Virtual Handshake is an excellent guide for anyone who is just getting started growing their contact network.If you’ve been online a while but are not yet reading blogs and using one of the profile Web sites, you’ll pick up a number of essential techniques, too,

Speaking of blogs, the authors have a very interesting and useful blog atwww.thevirtvualhandshake.com/blog where you can also learn more about their book.

 

Cliff Allen is the co-author of the book One-to-One Web Marketing; 2nd Ed., published by John Wiley & Sons., and is co-founder of SureToMeet.com.


 

Welcome to Chapter 2 of the SureToMeet blog…

Cliff Allen, my late husband, started this blog about productive networking and shared many articles and tips for attendees at networking events, as well as tips for the organizers of networking events — business, social and civic.

Since Cliff’s passing, my son and I have taken over the SureToMeet mission — we maintained the online event registration service for several years until we clarified our more permanent direction to keep up with changes in the industry.  In 2014 we received a patent on a “Matching system for networking at events” and have been busy researching, prototyping and implementing this system and supporting Web presence.

We’re there! We’re expanding our team, and developing robust services on the SureToMeet website for your use.

We will kick off this new chapter of the SureToMeet Blog and an expanded Web system to provide training and support for business networkers, event organizers and sponsors who also want to support the events in their industry and/or locality.

MatchUp is our new service, and we’ll be revealing more about it as it is launched.  In the meantime, we hope you will join our community to help put the final shape to this powerful tool for productive networking at business events. Please join today as either a Business Networker, or an Organizer.

Carolyn Allen
CEO, SureToMeet

The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on ways to improve the quality and value of the relationships that we establish through networking.

John Strande of Business Evolutionist posted Top 50 things to improve relationships that go from little things we can do (e.g., smile more) to great philosophical thoughts (e.g., Relationships are journeys that unfold in magnificent ways).

With 50 tips on the list, you can focus on one each week in the coming year and still have two weeks to reflect on the following year.

Every meeting, event, or group gathering is networking opportunity where you might meet several interesting people.
But, if you’ve been out networking, you know how hard it is to find the people who are more than interesting contacts — the people who become great business partners, friends, or more.

Introductions make networking more productive

One way to make networking easier is to be introduced to just the right person by someone with a large network of people.

Mary Kurek, a professional networker who seeks out the best connections for her clients, is sharing her network at movie, gaming and other creative conferences .

Connectors like Mary provide a great service by making networking more productive and fun.

You can be a connector, too

No matter how many people are in your network, you can start a networking group and introduce people to each other, too.

Gather people together and introduce them to each other. Encourage them to continue their conversation in person or on the phone (or Skype) — and to plan something they can work on together.
And, if you want to place an order for quality connections, contact Mary.
By taking the lead in hosting a networking event and helping people get connected, Mary is deinately a 10.

People attend meeting and events over and over again because they feel they receive value from attending each time. Once they attend a few meetings and don’t feel that they benefited they quit attending.
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It’s no secret that we all act that way. What seems to be a secret to many groups and organizations is how to deliver the “value” that members and volunteers are seeking.

During her Lazy Leader Road Show, Cynthia D’Amour shared how to attract (and retain) members by appealing to their “hot buttons.” People who attend meetings are looking for some combination of these attributes:

  • Personal/professional development
  • Make a difference
  • Be part of a community

Every organization is different, so each organization’s members look for different combinations of these attributes.

Chapters of professional organizations rely more on professional development than a business networking mixer group. But, both types of organizations have the same challenge — to deliver the “value” that meets the needs of members in these three areas.

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