By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – For most people, the thought of going into a networking event on their own, and approaching strangers, is uncomfortable, if not downright terrifying. For Sandra Kearney though, it’s not only a way to meet interesting new people who may become clients – it’s also fun. And after the workshop she hosted on Jan. 22, hosted by the Corridor 9/495 Regional Chamber of Commerce, the 30 participants in attendance left maybe not quite with Kearney’s level of confidence – yet – but with a host of excellent tips.
Throughout her career, Kearney has utilized those networking skills in a vast array of experiences including owning several small businesses. For the past several years she has worked in sales training and recently has once again utilized her entrepreneurial skills to start her new company, Human Power Solutions. She has her master’s degree in organizational leadership from Nichols College.
At the Corridor 9/495 workshop she noted four important networking principles – develop new contacts; organize your list of contacts for easy referral; follow up promptly once you make those contacts; and build relationships to create a network of connections on not only who you can rely on but just as importantly, how you can help each other as well.
“Don’t just look at someone as how they can help you,” she said. “Be reciprocal and think about what you can possibly do for that person too. Offer value and ‘sell’ yourself.”
LinkedIn is also a powerful networking for any business person, Kearney said. But the important thing to note is to send a personal message to someone, not a “canned” comment. She also shared how one person had reached out to her to connect on the platform, with Kearney then suggesting they meet for coffee. The person demurred saying she only wanted to have an online relationship.
“I deleted that request then,” Kearney said.
Although it may be uncomfortable, she added, networking face to face is best.
“It’s important for establishing relationships,” she stressed.
In the workshop, she gave tips on how to gracefully merge into a group that was already chatting as well as how to gracefully exit a conversation.
Sometimes she acknowledged, a potential new contact just might not work out.
“It’s ok,” she said. “Don’t take it personal. Just move on.”
The workshop was part of Corridor 9’s Success Express monthly series, which is offered to Chamber members as well as non-members. Each session highlights a particular topic and is hosted by an expert in that field.
The Success Express Workshop series is sponsored by Commerce Bank, a division of Berkshire Bank. For information on future workshops visit www.corridornine.org.