NETWORKING AND THE AMHERST CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
By Colleen DiPirro - President and CEO
Each month, the Amherst Chamber welcomes dozens of businesses - new members - to our organization at our New Member Orientation. We always ask why they joined the Chamber and the vast majority responds - networking. Certainly, the Chamber provides networking opportunities. We have monthly complimentary Business After Hours, four professional networking groups, Tools for Prosperity Workshops and Lunch and Learns - to name a few. But, at the end of the day, what they really mean by networking is they want to increase their sales or decrease their costs. They want to make a buck or save a buck. To do so, they must network correctly.
First of all, members must participate in our events. We don't send people out to knock on your door and ask about your product or services. It is all about building relationships. I have seen new members come to an event, armed with fistfuls of business cards and 'work the room'. At the end of the event, they have distributed all of their business cards but their phone never rings. That is because all they were doing was 'pitching'; they weren't building relationships. You need to get to know the people you are pitching. They need to get to know you. When approaching someone, ask what they do and request one of their business cards. Inquire how they got into that line of work. Be interested in them. Listen for ways you may be able to help them. Connect them to one of your peers that may be able to help them - network and connect. Plant the seed and watch it grow. Pretty soon a lot of people will know you. When they need what you have to sell, they will come to you. They will be loyal to you because you have been loyal to them and they trust you. They will send you referrals. This has been the experience of our members who have benefited from their engagement in the Amherst Chamber of Commerce. And, if you compliment this networking strategy with a social media strategy, you will reap huge rewards. Our next article will feature methods to expand your network through social media. Just another example of the Chamber working with you and for you to increase your prosperity.