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Tag archives for networking group

One of the problems that event organizers constantly face is finding good, inexpensive meeting locations.

We started hosting a free monthly networking event here in Los Angeles and faced this problem ourselves.

One of the people helping start our networking group suggested that we meet in the lobby/bar of a large hotel because it has plenty of room for a group to network, it’s easy for everyone to find the building, and is usually not very busy. It turns out that it’s not easy to find a large hotel lobby/bar that can easily hold 100-150 people, but after visiting several hotels we found a good venue for our networking events.

We originally wanted a lobby/bar to avoid the costs of a meeting room while we started the networking group – especially since it’s free to attend our networking events! It turns out that there are other benefits, too. It’s easy for everyone to find our networking group when they arrive, the chairs and couches are comfortable for groups to sit and chat, and we attract people who are in the hotel for other meetings and events.

So, when you need a place for a group to meet, consider a nearby hotel lobby.

One part of our individual network is what might be called our “unintentional network” — the network of people who know us and talk to others about their experiences without us even knowing about it.

For entrepreneurs looking for investors, it’s sometimes surprising how much emphasis venture capitalists place on the quality of a venture’s management team versus the potential revenue of the product.

How do these investors learn about a venture’s management team?

Most venture capitalists have an extensive and active network that allows them to quickly identify top-quality management. Fred Wilson, commenting on the vetting of candidates for high-level positions, said, “We have networks that usually provide a bunch of great reference opportunities.”

The same informal networking occurs in close-knit industries, within community organizations, and, of course, in purely social networking.

Our network isn’t just a hub-and-spoke set of contacts with us at the center of our own network. Many times the people who have dealt with us — as a client or customer, supplier, employer, or employee — form an informal network that affects our future more than we suspect.

If you’ve ever been surprised to receive an invitation to join an organization, committee, or board of directors, your unintentional network probably helped make it happen.

So, how do you make sure this unintentional network has good things to say about you?

First, do your best to make sure that the people you interact with have a positive experience, or at least feel that you treated them fairly under the circumstances. Also, stay in contact with people in your network and make sure they know they can call on you when they need help, information, or a referral to one of your contacts.

You never know when you’ll be called upon to be part of someone’s unintentional network to help create an opportunity for someone in your network.

We’re all looking for better ways to connect with other people so we can have great experiences.
The options for electronic connections has grown tremendously from the telephone and e-mail to include instant messaging, SMS text messaging on our cell phones, and social networking Web sites like MySpace and Match.com. Let’s not forget about blogs, where comments can be a conversation. And, the newest way to share everything about your life, Twitter.

While most of these services can help grow online relationships, their most valuable uses are to share information and arrange face-to-face encounters with another person or group.

Tony Karrer links to a post by Kathy Sierra (Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video…) on attending the SXSW conference that covers online communicating. She said:

Bottom line: Face-to-Face matters, and the more people we meet online, the more people we now want to connect with offline.

She points out that one of the reasons people attend face-to-face events is the emotional energy of being around others who believe as you do. SXSW attendees believe in the power and benefits of online communication and media. And they came together face-to-face to learn from each other and support each other.

Face-to-Face meetings versus online meetings - reasons for each
Another powerful motivation for attending face-to-face events is physical touch. Whether it’s a hardy handshake at business events or a friendly hug or kiss at social events, physical touch is key to great relationships.

By the way, she also listed 10 great ways to get people together face-to-face.

The chart highlights how to choose whether to hold an online event or a face-to-face event. If it’s only for information sharing, especially among people who already know each other, hold the meeting online. However, if the attendees need to build relationships and become motivated, face-to-face is still the best way to meet.

So, when you’re deciding whether to have an online meeting or a face-to-face meeting, consider whether the relationships everyone will form are more valuable than everyone’s cost of traveling to the meeting.

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