Like it or not, no matter what your title is, you’re selling something. Some of us are literally selling services or goods. Others may be promoting a non-profit and encouraging people to donate or volunteer. No matter what your role is within an organization, good customer service is vital to keep people coming back. An essential part of growing a business or non-profit is attracting new customers, volunteers and donors. The first word in Coastal Women’s Forum’s tagline is “Networking”. Whether you joined CWF to specifically find new customers or just to meet new women, networking describes how this is done.
I have belonged to many networking organizations during my career – from loose groups who met for breakfast once a month to more formal weekly networking groups such as BNI (Business Networking International). With formal groups, there is a stated structure and exact procedures to follow to get to know other members of the group and to provide referrals to each other. Referrals given and received are tracked, tallied and reported on. While this is not emphasized within CWF, I think we can learn some lessons from these groups on how to network.
First and foremost, we all are a center of influence. We have friends, families, and co-workers that we interact with daily. When we are asked for advice or recommendations for service, who do we recommend? Generally, someone whose service we have used or someone we know who performs that service. As members of Coastal Women’s Forum, we have at our fingertips over 120 women who are resources for many goods and services and represent non-profit organizations. Aside from just checking the directory, how do we confidently recommend our sisters?
There’s another old saying in sales that folks have to “know you, like you and trust you.” And it begins with “know you.” I would like to encourage you to get to know your fellow members in CWF beyond sitting together at our daytime and evening meetings. In BNI we were expected to participate in “one-on-one’s”. These were meetings outside the group meetings between two members. We even had suggested questions to ask each other to facilitate learning all about each other and our businesses. What could happen if you made a commitment to ask one person to coffee that you met at CWF? What if you met with one person a month? At the least you’d learn more about each other, you might even gain some new business, or even better, you may make a new friend.
In January, our program coordinators have designed our meetings around Getting to Know You so that you will have an opportunity to learn more about your CWF sisters. Besides being a lot of fun, we’ll learn more about each other and I encourage you to be on the lookout for someone that you just might want to get to know a bit better!
Let’s have coffee,