5 reasons to embrace the dreaded business networking event

The dreaded networking event — sweaty palms, clammy forehead, and tongue-twisted conversation. These are the symptoms that often arise when checking into such social gatherings.

But networking represents an invaluable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the successes (and failures) of peers, and build avenues for new client acquisition. Small businesses need to use these gatherings as a tactic to build your client base and establish new partnerships.

Related Article: 7 Tips for Networking

Here are the top 5 benefits for sharpening your networking prowess:

1. Profile elevation

A profile is very simply an outline or silhouette of a person or thing. Networking is the process of filling-in that outline so people can ascertain a more complete picture of who you are. This profile elevation often comes by simply being visible and present in the moment, which is a key benefit of networking. Make sure you find yourself regularly attending events at your local chamber and other social gatherings throughout your community. This will result in leads and referrals back to you and your company.

Related Article: Preparing for a Networking Event

Get the latest Butler County news you want, when you want, in this free app from Journal-News. Click a link below to get the app.

2. Business leads

Networking provides a great resource for client generation. This is the most tangible and important benefit of networking. Further, networking through organizations like your local and regional chamber will often provide client referrals of high quality, thereby eliminating wasted time and effort.

3. Put the “net” in networking

Connections are powerful, in fact business experts remark that they are the “twenty-first century currency”. So, the old adage “It’s not what you know, but who you know” still rings absolutely true today. As a business owner, it is essential to have a trusted list that you can rely on to help solve your most pressing challenges. Additionally, the key to a network is the vast “net” which is cast. If a particular member of your network is unable to assist, often there is someone else in their network which they can connect you to – thereby growing yours.

MORE: Business marketing is no ‘Field of Dreams’

4. Mentorship

Delving into situations with like-minded business owners not only provides you with occasions to talk “shop”, but also provides mentorship opportunities. One note of caution which we advise our clients – make sure the mentor has the experience, expertise, and willingness to provide valuable feedback.

5. The potential

Along with discovering the right networking group, you’ll also be uncovering a dynamic set of potential partners that have the same drive, motivation, and passion as you. It is these characteristics which provide for an abundance of partnership, sales, marketing, and visionary opportunities. Take your time, get invested, and see where potential visions can align to have mutual and long-lasting benefits.

In conclusion, don’t see networking as any one thing or goal, but a myriad of varying avenues towards achieving personal and professional growth. Your network will be absolutely critical in helping you reach new aspirational heights for your small business, whether it’s pushing you to scale towards a market position you initially felt was out of your realm or simply inspiring you to work harder on a daily basis.

Article by Chris Lawson originally posted on


How a Business can use LinkedIn

Can your business use LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is an online community of professionals who can link to other professionals or businesses in order to promote themselves or their business. Let’s look at ways of how a business can use LinkedIn.

First, a business should establish their presence on LinkedIn by creating their own page which is free. A bio should then be added about what the business does and the products or services offered. The company logo and some kind of banner image should be included on the page in order to make the business profile easy to find.

Linking LinkedIn to the Business Website

A business should link their page to their company website along with any blogs or social platforms. It is even possible to embed a “follow” button on the business website to allow customers to easily find them on LinkedIn.

•Link the page to the business website

•Link the page to any social platforms or blogs the business is involved in

•Embed a “follow” button on the business website

If there are any employees who have profiles on LinkedIn, they should be encouraged to add their relationship with the business on their profile. Create a follower base and encourage customers to become followers. It is also helpful to create a forum where customers can share their experiences with the business and the use of its products and services.

Gaining Followers

A good way to try and gain followers is to know the audience the business is trying to attract:

•Run a search for members who fit the customer persona

•Look at their pages and see what subjects they follow

•Get involved in relevant subjects

Following these steps will help determine which subjects the business might be able to use.

LinkedIn Groups

A business can join LinkedIn groups, which are groups that are involved in the same brand or industry. This allows these similar businesses to join in conversation with one another and possibly try to help each other out.

Advertising through LinkedIn

Another way of how a business can use LinkedIn is by promoting itself with LinkedIn Ads and Sponsored Updates. There is targeting criteria that can be used to find ideal customers such as seniority, geography, industry, etc. It is even possible to track the business’ progress by using the analytics tab on the company page. This information can be used to help tailor posts to the people that the business is already reaching and wants to reach.

As you can see, there are several ways of how a business can use LinkedIn to connect with customers.



Life is Good,

Mathew Phillips, 
Digital Marketing Consultant
Metro Annex Interactive

PS. Click here for a FREE Digital Media Audit & Strategy Session.



The post How A Business Can Use LinkedIn appeared first on Metro Annex Interactive.

March Madness Event Round Up 2017

The March event was a huge success with SSNPG celebrating its seven year anniversary as the premier open networking event on the south shore for business professionals. We had a large turnout as the weather was great. Cask’n’Flagan’s chef put out a fantastic display of appetizers including corn-beef sliders in celebration of St. Patricks day. We also had a delicious signature cocktail which also kept with the theme of St. Patrick’s day – An Irish Coffee! Our friends at Our Pinnacle Networks also joined us as we hosted their annual Network Ninja Awards Ceremony. There was a lot of networking going on and many contributed to our monthly door prize give-a-way. Thank you to all who attended and who contributed a prize!


Prize Donor

Thank you to the folks that contributed to our monthly door prize give-a-way. Every prize donor receives an opportunity to speak for a few minutes about their business or profession to the group. They also get mentioned here in our monthly roundup post.


Prize Winners

Congratulations to the folks that won our monthly door prize give-a-way. Every prize winner receives an opportunity to speak for a few minutes about their business or profession to the group.


SSNPG Lanyard Prize Winners

Congratulations to the lucky person who won our monthly SSNPG Lanyard prize give-a-way. We hand out a few SSNPG Lanyards each month with a business card holder so you can wear it as a name tag while you network. Those who ware it get a ticket for a special drawing just for them. Don’t have one, ask us about it at our next event.


Pitch Your Business To A Crowd Ready To Listen!

Want to participate in our Door Prize Give-A-Way? 

We’ve all heard of the “Elevator Pitch”, that 60 second opportunity to make your sales pitch to a small captive audience. We have an opportunity for you to make your sales pitch to a captive crowd of Business Pros. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!

Networking For Qualified Referrals

The Benefits Of Networking And Building Professional Relationships For Qualified Referrals

Networking has gained popularity in recent years. The benefits of networking include growing contacts, gaining new clients and building long term professional relationships. Every business owner should join a networking group or get involved with networking activities. Networking isn’t about selling. It’s about building long term relationships.

Referral business is the best business. There is nothing better for business than a repeat customer or client.  Building professional relationships for qualified referrals is second to none as a way to build a business. It sends the message that you and your business are trustworthy and on the move.

According to author Larry James and writer Kim Baird of Amazing Business, the benefits of networking include:

Getting connected – The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has never been truer. Building a base of connections creates a source of contacts that can help your business. Networking is all about building a network of connections and those connections have people that can also be tapped. Having an interconnected network of like minds opens up the door to a broad source of information.

New ideas – A network offers a source of connections with new ideas and perspectives for your business. It’s a great way to exchange ideas and keep up on the latest trends in your industry or line of business. Being a part of the network puts you in line as a knowledgeable contact that can offer help to others. This can help build your reputation within your circle of contacts as well as in your business line.

Being noticed – Networking raises your business profile. By regularly attending networking events gets you noticed. Your name and face will be the first to pop in your peers’ heads when they need what you offer. There is nothing better than a familiar face when it comes to business dealings.

Qualified referrals – These are people that have been vetted by the person making the referral. A qualified referral has the need for your service or product. The best referrals are generally from people within your network: people referring you to others and vice versa. By building a strong relationship with each person in your network earns their trust for referrals. Don’t be afraid to let people know the type of referral you are looking for-it’s best to have someone on board that will be of mutual benefit. Always keep in mind that referrals are earned by reputation. A person’s reputation is put on the line with each referral. Also, remember, it is better to give then to receive. By giving referrals can increase your value to others in your network. The more referrals you give, the more you will get.

Networking opens up a host of new opportunities for your business such as partnerships, joint ventures and client leads. Often times referrals and leads turn into clients. Nothing beats a base of contacts that can be at the ready to help you. You may be surprised at what new business opportunities await through networking.


[et_bloom_inline optin_id=optin_3]

How To Plan An Event

Planning Makes A Perfect Event

If you’re considering to hold an event, it’s success will be determined on how well it was planned. Whether it be a small party, wedding, conference, seminar, concert, fundraiser, training or networking event, planning is key. Here are some tips on how to plan an event from Wild Apricot and About Money.

Event objectives – The first step in planning an event is to establish a set of objectives and goals. You should ask yourself a few questions such as what is the event about and what you hope it will accomplish.

Organize a team – Having a team is crucial to a successful event. Appoint a manager to oversee the entire program and have either subcommittees or people in place to be in charge of such key areas as selecting the venue, catering, publicity, volunteers and speakers.

Set a theme – Choose a theme for the event so that it will not only stand out from other events but also be attractive to the particular group you are targeting. Consider designing a catchy logo and slogan so that it will be noticed online or through social media.

Budget – The caterer and venue represent the largest cost of an event. For limited budgets, a buffet is less costly than a served dinner and a disk jockey can save some money rather than having a band. It’s not a bad idea to have a contingency plan for unexpected costs. Keep within what you can afford.

Sponsors – Seek out sponsors that would not only help with the costs but increase participation. Check out local organizations or businesses as well as national corporations. A local business could sponsor raffle prizes, flowers for the tables or small gifts for participants. Large corporations may be interested in covering the dinner or offering large prizes. Reach out to community organizations who could help with the venue and or provide staffing for the event.

Create a working plan – You’ll need an overall plan that encompasses a budget, costs, logistics, entertainment, staff and management of guests and speakers.

Set a date – After you have plans in place, it’s time to set a date. Be aware of religious, state and federal holidays and even school vacations. Check with your speakers, sponsors and special guests to make sure they are available. Give them plenty of notice for the date of the event.

Publicity – Set up a website or a dedicated web page for the event and use Facebook and Twitter for promotion and updates. Send out press releases to local media detailing the program. Email is a great way for not only promotion and updates, but also providing last minute reminders. Create a Facebook page or a Facebook Event listing where your contacts can spread the word. When using Twitter, create a hashtag and use it on all web pages.

Post event networking function – Consider having a post event networking function and promote it in your marketing strategy. It’s a great way for your attendees to develop contacts and it will set your event above the others.

Planning an event can actually be fun and if done right, will be a memorable experience for everyone.


[et_bloom_inline optin_id=optin_3]

Preparing For A Networking Event

Do you prepare for the networking events you attend?

A networking event is a great way to connect with business people if you’re trying to expand your business or find job leads. While networking events can be truly rewarding, some find them a bit intimidating or even awkward. Properly preparing for a networking event can set you apart from the others. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of a networking event.

Prepare Yourself

Before leaving for the event, think about what you want to achieve and what type of connections you want to make. Think of some topics to discuss to get a conversation going: current events, sports and hobbies are usually good ice breakers. If possible, find out who will be at the event to make it easier for you to navigate the room. Bring plenty of business cards and dress accordingly.

At The Networking Event

Once you have arrived, ask the organizer if they could help direct you to people that would be of interest to you. Instead of walking around aimlessly, it’s best to single out the right people. Look for those whose business or organization meets your goals. Seek out those who are alone and strike up a conversation. Also, take the initiative and join in a group discussion. Be a good listener. Letting the other person speak first can put that person at ease.

The Elevator Pitch

This is a 30-second or so brief, but, to-the-point “pitch” of your talents or business. It is named for a conversation that could be completed during an elevator ride. Convey exactly what you are seeking, whether it is a business opportunity or a job. Be concise and enthusiastic. Express your personality. Make it interesting and memorable.

Work The Room

Don’t be tied to one person during the event. Mix and mingle. Be confident and keep your arms by your side. Folded arms convey a negative attitude. Have an exit strategy ready when your conversation winds down. It’s best not to force a conversation that seems to be done. Say how much you enjoyed talking with them and, depending how the conversation went, offer to keep in touch.

What Not To Do At The Event

Because some people are intimated by networking events, they will bring a friend. It’s best to go at it yourself so you won’t spend the whole time just talking to the person you came with instead of going around meeting people. Don’t go around the room handing out your business cards to everyone you see. Strike up a conversation with someone first before offering your card. Be selective with whom you want to talk with, don’t try to meet everyone there.

Following Up

Don’t wait on following up with the people you met, especially those that seem promising. Send the person an email and reflect on a point of the conversation. Personalizing the follow up rather than just saying it was a generic “it was nice meeting you” can go a long way.  Another way to contact with a person is through LinkedIn. Send them an invitation to LinkedIn to continue building the relationship and keeping in contact. Don’t be a “stalker,” repeatedly trying to contact someone that hasn’t responded to your email or call. Give the person a couple tries, if they don’t get back to you, move on.

There are many benefits to a networking event. Being prepared can put on track to expanding your business connections.

Are you interested in marketing your business with an effective digital marketing program? Contact me to discuss how we can help you market your business online.


[et_bloom_inline optin_id=optin_3]

Supporting Local Businesses

Are You Supporting Local Businesses?

In an increasingly homogenized world, locally owned businesses have an economic advantage and stand out with their distinctive service and character, according to the Institute for Local Self Reliance. Compared to national chains or large corporations, the local business recycles a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community. That’s why supporting local businesses is so important.

Forbes says that local small business is – quite frankly – big business. According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 28.2 million businesses operating in the United States as of March 2014 with about 63 percent of new jobs being created from small businesses between 1993 and mid-2013.

Independently owned local businesses are too often overlooked for all the wrong reasons. Customers assume that pricing will automatically be higher at a small business compared to a corporate-owned entity. Many perks are offered by small businesses such as customer care, inventory assortment and community support.

Forbes offers these reasons why local businesses should be supported:

Customer service – is more personalized and hands-on at a local business. Generally, you deal with the owner of the business, be it a construction company, a plumber or a store. Their personal commitment to their business certainly helps in these efforts and typically stronger customer care is experienced. Among the reasons why is that they have a more hands-on role within the company, therefore building a stronger sense of care for the job they do. Additionally, smaller companies are more flexible in their customer support with a willingness to bend rules if necessary.

Product diversity and options – These are often greater at small businesses compared to chain stores or corporations. Sure, a big box merchant may have a larger footprint in your local community, but that doesn’t mean they have more variety to offer. When you walk into a chain store, you know exactly what you will find. However, when you walk into a local business, you are often surprised by the inventory options.

Giving back to the community – Local business owners are more likely to give back to the community such as by supporting local causes. Actual dollars kept within the local community is significantly higher when dollars are spent at a local business compared to a corporate one. For every $100 spent at a local business, $63 stays in the community. Small businesses deliver community character and economic advantages to the town they are positioned in, but also strengthen partnerships among neighbors, residents, other small business owners, community leaders and even schools by offering social and economic relationships.

Inventory – Smaller merchants have the same access to vendors as big box stores do. If you need an item and it’s not available in their store, it’s likely they can get in touch with the vendor right away and order it. Most small store owners are eager to go above and beyond in their customer service support and this is just one way they can do so for their customers.

A marketplace with thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products and providing services based on their own interests and needs of their local customers and not a national sales plan, guarantees a much broader range of product choices, says the Institute for Local Self Reliance. Consider supporting local businesses that are such an important part of your community.


[et_bloom_inline optin_id=optin_3]


business networking at

How to Work Less and Get More Done

Doesn’t it seem there aren’t enough hours in the day to get your work done? Do you find yourself working harder and accomplishing less? Well, you’re not alone.

A survey by found that the average employee wastes two hours of each workday, not counting scheduled breaks or lunch. There are so many distractions today, namely our cellphones. We’re often checking email, texts and the internet. What may seem like an occasional glance quickly adds up to wasted time during the workday.

There’s a saying, “Work smarter, not harder.” There are ways to get the job done without having to work longer or harder. Here are some tips to help you work smarter:

Turn off social media – If you’re not using Twitter or Facebook for work, wait until you get home to engage it, suggests Forbes. You’ll be surprised how much time you save by not scrolling through dozens of posts and tweets. If you are using email or social media for work, check it a few times during the day instead of very few minutes.

Make a List – Having a to-do list will eliminate that wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the night panic that you forgot to do an important task during the day. Make a list that can be realistically accomplished.

Delegate – Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to co-workers. Just make sure you delegate the right task to the right person.

Do Less – Carefully choose your projects and tasks. Don’t take on more than you can handle – you know your limits. Focus on one goal at a time.

Clear Your Mind – Forbes recommends taking a short break away from your desk several times a day. Go for a short walk or just step away from the computer for a few minutes. A fresh, clear mind does wonders to keep you focused and improve productivity.

Streamline – Try to reduce tasks such as the number or the length of meetings and how many times you check your business email. A few minutes saved here and there adds up.

Improving productivity goes beyond the office. Try to keep your workweek to 40 hours and enjoy the weekend. A study by Stanford University found that productivity declines sharply if the workweek exceeds 50 hours. Those who work a 70-hour week have the same productivity as those who worked 55 hours, according to the study.

Entrepreneur suggests these tips for a better weekend to help you relax and recharge:
Disconnect – Remove yourself from your job between Friday night and Monday morning. Forget about checking work emails or taking work-related calls.

Exercise – Just 10-minutes of exercise helps release the neurotransmitter, GABA, that reduces stress. Walk, run, work in the garden are al; great stress relievers. Get outdoors and enjoy some fresh air.

Enjoy your family – Spend times with the kids and your spouse. Go on a family trip or out to dinner.

Don’t sleep late – It may be tempting to sleep-in weekend mornings but studies show that waking up at the same time each day keeps your circadian rhythm – your internal body clock – in check.



This post How to Work Less and Get More Done was published on Insurance South Shore first.


7 Tips for Networking

Networking goes hand in hand with running a successful business.

But many of us dread walking into a room and introducing ourselves to a bunch of strangers.

I’ve been asked to share my best networking tips at a meeting today of the National Association of Women Business Owners in Philadelphia. Here are the most valuable tips I’ve come across – and put to work myself – over the years:

1. Resist the urge to arrive late. It’s almost counter-intuitive, but showing up early at a networking event is a much better strategy than getting there on the later side. As a first attendee, you’ll notice that it’s calmer and quieter – and people won’t have settled into groups yet. It’s easier to find other people who don’t have conversation partners yet.

2. Ask easy questions. Don’t wait around the edges of the room, waiting for someone to approach you. To get the conversation started, simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, “May I join you” or “What brings you to this event?” Don’t forget to listen intently to their replies. If you’re not a natural extrovert, you’re probably a very good listener – and listening can be an excellent way to get to know a person.

3. Ditch the sales pitch. Remember, networking is all about relationship building. Keep your exchange fun, light and informal – you don’t need to do the hard sell within minutes of meeting a person. The idea is to get the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with – or partner with – people whose company they enjoy.

If a potential customer does ask you about your product or service, be ready with an easy description of your company. Before the event, create a mental list of recent accomplishments, such as a new client you’ve landed or project you’ve completed. That way, you can easily pull an item off that list and into the conversation.

4. Share your passion. Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.

5. Smile. It’s a simple – but often overlooked – rule of engagement. By smiling, you’ll put your nervous self at ease, and you’ll also come across as warm and inviting to others. Remember to smile before you enter the room, or before you start your next conversation. And if you’re really dreading the event? Check the negative attitude at the door.

6. Don’t hijack the conversation. Some people who dislike networking may overcompensate by commandeering the discussion. Don’t forget: The most successful networkers (think of those you’ve met) are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker.

7. Remember to follow up. It’s often said that networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you’ve had a great exchange, ask your conversation partner the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer social networks like LinkedIn. Get in touch within 48 hours of the event to show you’re interested and available, and reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.


The post 7 Tips for Networking appeared first on



10 Easy Steps to Get More Customers with Networking

by Kevin Stirtz

If you go to networking functions with the idea that you have to sell yourself, you’re doing it wrong.

Networking is about meeting others and building relationships. Here are ten steps to get the most from your networking.

Networking is a great way to meet people in a “non-selling” setting. So, don’t sell. Meet and greet. Ask people about their businesses. Be friendly and relaxed. Enjoy yourself. Get to know people. Above all, do not sell.

If and when someone appears to meet your target criteria, ask for their business card. Then follow up with them later to see if there might be a fit.

Here are some ideas to help you get the most from your networking:

1. Set a time budget each week or month for your networking. Plan to attend a specific number of meetings or events at which you can network. Make sure your other tasks and responsibilities fit around these meetings. It’s best to balance networking with your other lead generating activities. This way you can measure the value of your networking leads against the time spent acquiring them.

2. Pick networking opportunities that put you face to face with people most likely to need what you offer. Or try to meet people who can connect you with people who need what you offer. Both are good prospects.

3. Understand why you’re there – to begin relationships – not to sell. Networking is the first step in a long dance. Don’t rush.

4. Don’t give your cards to everyone. Save your money and some trees. Hand out your card only to people who ask for it.

5. Ask people questions. Learn about them and their business. This is how you pre-qualify them. If they meet your target criteria ask for their card. If not, don’t.
6. Don’t sell yourself. It’s okay to tell people what you do. Give your “30 second commercial” but stop after that. You’re there to gather information and to meet people, not to sell.

7. People love people who are interested in them. Ask questions, listen and engage people. This is the fastest way to develop rapport with someone. It’s also the best way to determine quickly if they’re someone you should be doing business with.

8. Have fun, relax and enjoy yourself. People like being around people who are relaxed and having fun.

9. Don’t corner people and don’t get cornered. Manage your time and conversation so you can meet enough people to justify your time spent networking.

10. Offer referrals. The best way to begin a relationship is by giving someone something – like a referral. It doesn’t cost you anything. If they’re the kind of person you want to do business with, they’ll reciprocate and a valuable, long-tem business relationship could develop.

Networking is a time-honored way of developing business relationships. It can be done in networking groups or clubs. It can be done through Chambers of Commerce. It can be done anywhere you meet people. If you are active in your community or industry, you can easily network. Some people “network” while shopping for groceries!

It all depends on your attitude and your focus. The more people you meet who might need your product or service, the more potential customers you can have.

Article originally published here.

Kevin Stirtz has developed a unique concept called “Blow Up Your Business.” He speaks to groups of professionals and business owners who want to attract more customers and put more money in their pocket. Kevin can be reached at