How many times have you been to a networking event where you didn’t meet one person that you didn’t already know? Or one where you had every intention of introducing yourself but you ended up spending the whole time talking to your friend?
I’d say the majority of networking events I have been to have been like that. Having just moved to back Michigan, after being in Colorado for the past nine years, I was hard pressed to not make the same networking mistakes that I have made in the past. I didn’t think it would be easy to do but I have been surprised – even impressed – at the level of productive networking that happens here in our own town of Traverse City.
Recently, I had the pleasure of doing some local networking on behalf of Oneupweb, and it has been very beneficial. One of the networking opportunities was attending a few Business Networking International meetings (BNI). BNI was started in 1985 by Dr. Ivan R. Misner, and it is a place for men and women to further their business through referral marketing. There are over 3,200 BNI chapters in the United States; we have five in Traverse City alone!
In November, I also attended the Business Expo put on by the local chamber of commerce. Over 140 exhibitors and 1300 attendees take part in this annual event that showcases community businesses, allows large-scale networking, and introduces new products and services to the region each November.
Another way I’ve gotten out into the community is by volunteering at the State Theater once a month with a few of my co-workers.
Participating in these events and meetings has introduced me to so many new people in the Traverse City business community. If you’re not familiar with these networking opportunities, I highly suggest you check them out!
Business Networking International (BNI)
This is by far the most productive networking group that I have been a part of, and they meet once a week! The purpose of the meeting is to pass referrals back and forth, and hone in on your presentation and leadership skills. They only allow one company per industry per chapter, so as soon as your application is accepted, and you’ve paid your annual membership fee, you lock out your competition. BNI provides a positive, supportive and structured environment for the development and exchange of quality business referrals. It does so by helping you build personal relationships with dozens of other qualified business professionals.
Business Expo at the Grand Traverse Resort
Not having participated in this event last year, I had no idea what to expect. I cannot believe how many people and booths were at this event; it was so well organized and there were so many businesses. Even though Traverse City is a “small town,” there was a wide variety of businesses, large corporations and start-ups from insurance companies to breweries. Oneupweb will definitely have a booth next year. Props to the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce for organizing such a grand event.
Volunteering at the State Theater
Who doesn’t love the State Theater and Bijou by the Bay? They are simply the best movie theaters ever, with the best movies (and popcorn). Another great part is that because both are run by volunteers; there is a sense of ownership with the people of Traverse City. Once a month, Oneupweb volunteers at the State Theater, as do a lot of other businesses. It’s a fun way to interact with your co-workers outside of work, meet other community members and get a free movie voucher to use at a later date.
The moral of the story here is to take advantage of the networking opportunities available in Traverse City – you might be surprised at who you meet and where that connection takes you. We are lucky to live here in this awesome community, you can see and feel the pride that people have for their local businesses.
Has it been awhile since you have talked with someone at Oneupweb? If so, we would like to reintroduce ourselves, so please feel free to drop us a comment below or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org