Networking With A Twist

lemon twistIf you’re an active networker, you know the drill. At meetings each member gets their turn in the spotlight for 30 or 60 seconds, time to mingle and exchange business cards with others, an opportunity to display marketing materials, provide a door prize and have a space on the website to advertise their business. Networking in the traditional sense usually involves both membership and meeting fees. Often the commitments required of members are quite demanding such as attendance at early morning meetings every single week and referral quotas to meet.

Business owners are getting tired of the traditional networking events and some savvy business owners have come up with a few twists to spice up the experience. These innovative new groups are generally more flexible, less formal and either have no meeting fees or are affordably priced (under $20).

Here are 3 networking events with a twist that I have attended. They are a little less intimidating for those who don’t enjoy being in the spotlight and who prefer one-on-one communication to get their message across. They also tend to be more fun!

1. Crazy Networking: The main idea is that you promote each other’s businesses letting other people do your marketing for you. Attendees are assembled into small groups and each person in the group has their opportunity to be the Star. The Star explains their business to the others and relays a specific request. The group in turn speaks to as many of the other attendees as possible to find people to fulfill the Star’s request in a specified amount of time. It’s a great concept but for this one to work you have to be an effective communicator and listener as the Star only has about 2 minutes to convey their information. At $20/meeting I found it a little pricey.

2. Kitchen Table Networking: It has that homey feel for those intimidated by speaking in front of large groups and in that it usually takes place in the home of the organizer of the group. And often, yes, around a kitchen table. In this very relaxed environment of about 6 or 8 business owners, each attendee gets 10 minutes to present their business to the others in any format they prefer with an additional 5 minutes of Q and A. This is much more effective than a 30 or 60 second elevator pitch. I have developed solid long term business relationships through the events I have attended. There is no fee to join.

3. Speed Networking: In this setting you get to have one-on-one time with each guest which is rare for a networking event. It works well with about 20 attendees. Each networking session is 2-3 minutes in which the pair share information about their business. Participants alternate their seating until everyone has interacted with each other. There isn’t a lot of time to convey your message but when attendees don’t adhere to the time limits, it interrupts the flow of the meeting and doesn’t look good on the business owner. It is speed networking after all. These meetings are free to attend.

Do any of these unique events appeal to you? I find the more non-traditional types of networking groups are a better fit for me and you might want to consider one too. Check your local Meetup groups, ask around amongst your fellow business owners or better yet organize your own.

The traditional type of networking events can still be effective but there are other options out there that you might find suit you better and give you good or even better results.

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