Great Ideas for your Small Business:
Attend Charity Events to Make Contacts
Dust off your tuxedo or evening gown – it’s time to socialize with the leaders of your business community. One great way to meet the “who’s who” of your town is to buy a ticket to a local charity event where you can rub shoulders with people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to contact. At such events, you can mingle and schmooze your way through the cocktail hour and look for an empty seat at a corporate table if you wait until the last minute to sit down.
A friend who was making a transition from the shoe business to high-end real estate went a step further. She didn’t have the money to buy the $500 or $1,000 tickets to the charity balls she needed to attend, so she volunteered to work at the registration desk. At one gala, she was given the task of pinning carnations on the lapels of all the men who arrived. She’s a relentless flirt and made an impression as she fastened flowers to the jackets of dozens of New York City’s business elite. She made new contacts and was able to follow up with phone calls a few days later.
One of the best ways to find out about charity events is to read the society pages of the local newspaper. The New York Times, for instance, has a section devoted to upcoming events, where they are, and how to buy the tickets. While you may think $1,000 per ticket is expensive, it is much cheaper than the cost of attending an industry trade show in another city.
Do your research carefully. You want to attend a benefit that attracts high-level people in your industry. For example, music industry executives may be in attendance at an annual benefit that raises money for music education. If you are try- ing to make connections in that industry, that’s the benefit you want to attend.
Since most people leave their business cards home when they put on a tuxedo or formal dress, you will have to depend on your memory to make follow-up calls after the event. Be charming and interesting, and if you decide to make a call, do it shortly after you’ve met the person so they don’t have time to forget who you are.