By Laura Wiegmann
Networking, while generally not taught in college business curriculum, is known by every small business owner to be the absolute most effective way to build a business. The reason for this is it gives owners the ability to develop relationships and loyalty by attending various types of gatherings. Then, through conversation, professionals can meet each others business and personal needs and even refer trusted professionals on many occasions.
Anne Arundel County is replete with exceptional networking groups, from Chambers of Commerce, to weekly Leads and Referral organizations, to random Meetups and other various networking associations with specific targeted audiences. These groups have a mission to sponsor events that are usually fun, sometimes educational, and always full of opportunities for proprietors to meet others who may have need of their services.
One such event, provided several times throughout the year in different venues, is the Joint Networking Mixer. These mixers draw a large crowd from several different organizations, and each Chamber takes turns in the sponsoring, inviting and planning of the event.
The most recent mixer was sponsored by the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce, with the Executive Director, Linda Zahn doing the majority of the planning. The event took place at Hellas Restaurant in Millersville on the morning of April 28.
About 140 people from nine different networking organizations came together to participate in the event, which included breakfast and four different rotations of 90-second speed networking presentations. This means that each individual was seated at four different tables throughout the morning and heard mini presentations and collected business cards from every person at each table, in addition to giving their own presentation to a total of 28 different people.
Groups represented included Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber, Baltimore-Washington Corridor Chamber, Greater Bowie Chamber, Greater Crofton Chamber, Greater Severna Park Chamber, Entrepreneurs Exchange, Pasadena Business Association, West County Chamber, and North Anne Arundel County Chamber. Ms. Zahn said there were more organizations present than ever before, and they were really happy with the response to the event.
People who are in the early stages of business have the daunting task of getting to know everyone around them, and somehow getting everyone around them to understand what they do, and what sets them apart. These types of events offer help with this dilemma in an energetic and multifaceted situation. Sandy Parrish, from the Pasadena Business Association, said that she sees these events as a great opportunity especially for new businesses to reach a large group of people in one setting.
However, new businesses are most certainly not the only ones to benefit. After being in a business community for a long time, one begins to see some of the same people over and over, and often loyalties are already established one way or the other. Going to larger get-togethers like these Joint Mixers offers the small business person an opportunity to meet more people and open up new possibilities. Whether in business for ten days or ten years, proprietors need to have and be- passionate power partners. These types of events are all about connecting people so that they can find that perfect power partner.