Volume 2 Issue 1
Face-to-Face Networking For the Small Business Owner
By Lourdes Cortez
You are at a networking event and a person walks into the room and you’re immediately drawn to them. Why? More than likely that person exudes a kind of charisma that gets them noticed. That’s Power! And when it comes to building relationships, as a small business owner, being able to adapt to any situation, especially ones of the social networking kind, more importantly, face-to-face, should be a part of your repertoire. Essentially, before the evening is over that person will have made a number of important connections that will serve them well.
With that in mind, the power of face-to-face networking is vital to any successful business. After all, there is power in numbers, the more people you know, the more customers you’ll attract, and the more your business will flourish.
However, taking networking a step further, according to “The Elements of Power,” by Terry Bacon, there are eleven networking sources of power – five being personal – knowledge, expressiveness, history, attraction and character. The remaining five fall under organizational – your role, resources, information, network/connections and reputation. And the golden nugget is will power. Possessing passion and commitment that when hinged to energy and action, you can’t help but to be noticed.
Clearly, when it comes to face-to-face networking there’s a lot more involved than just showing up at an event and noshing, while engaged in mindless chatter. There is an art to being an effective networker – someone people notice. No one can promote your business better than you, but you must be business savvy, influential, be an effective communicator and serve it up with charm.
Okay, now that you’re armed with your networking power tools, you’re ready for your next event. Once you arrive, first things first, lose your friends and don’t spend more time than what is necessary with any one person. Not unless that person is someone who can add real value to heighten your business’s altitude. Otherwise, you should be working the room making important connections, discovering new ideas and finding out what others are doing.
Be prepared to discuss what you do immediately and in short interesting sentences. No need to repeat yourself.
Most importantly, be friendly and say something funny. A good joke is always a crowd pleaser and being friendly and approachable makes you more attractive to the listener.
One thing to keep in mind – networking is a two-way street – don’t be selfish, you always want to be a resource and connect someone to a contact that you might know that can help them. This is important to remember and a good way to follow-up on a conversation you had with an important contact. It is also a way to build trust among your business peers, and something people value.
With no further adieu and with all that charisma, look who just walked into the room – YOU!
Lourdes Cortez, President/CEO of North Jersey Federal Credit Union, hails from Paterson. In 1984, she began her career at North Jersey Federal and served in several roles. In 2004, she was promoted to VP of Operations and soon thereafter became Senior VP and in 2005 was named President and CEO.
In February 2014, Cortez was appointed to the Board of Trustees of William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ. She also serves on the boards of the Workforce Investment Board of Passaic County, and Visions Academy Charter School in Newark, and as President of the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson and Passaic. Cortez is the chairperson for the North Jersey Federal Credit Union Foundation and assistant treasurer for Executive Women of NJ. She has volunteered for numerous organizations including La Casa De Don Pedro, the March of Dimes, Eva’s Village in Paterson and the American Cancer Society.
As the first Latina CEO of a credit union in New Jersey, Cortez has been honored by NJ Biz magazine, which named her one of the “Best 50 Women in Business” in New Jersey. Other awards include: the North Jersey Regional Chamber of Commerce, 2010 Star Award in Business, the 2010 Salute to the Policy Makers Award from Executive Women of NJ, and the 2012 Women of Achievement Award from the Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey.