3 Major Business Benefits to Hosting Networking Events
Contributed by Idea Collective Member:
Owning a business is easy. Running a business is a very different story.
When you throw in the small business owner/operator tasks of payroll, HR, IT, compliance, salesperson and networker – it’s just too much. It might even make you think you’re a little crazy, right? News flash – you are crazy. But, you’re also not normal and that’s why your business will survive in the tough times and thrive in the best of times.
Early on, I found that I needed to do normal things differently and, more importantly, better than the others. It helped me build a thriving mortgage practice today that operates under the mottos of #BeDifferent and #BeBetter.
One of the biggest pain points that I found, in time management, while I was still growing my business was networking. It’s necessary, for sure, but the challenge is that it takes so much time to meet everyone who wants to network one-on-one.
Can I get an amen?!
For me, I found that I had no shortage of people looking to do one-on-one over lunch, at their office, or the dreaded ______________ appointment; for me, that blank is “coffee.”
More than that, however, is that not everyone you meet is a good fit for you or your business. So not only do the one-on-ones take up valuable time, but you could very well be stuck for an hour (sometimes only five minutes into a meeting) with someone you know you’ll never do business with.
This is extremely inefficient and wildly unproductive, especially for small business owners. But that’s why my team and I love events, and we want to share our knowledge with you! Here are 3 ways you can bring people to you more efficiently, and how they can help your business.
1. Host events for training opportunities
Each year we run a series of Lunch and Learns called Wisdom Wednesday. Over the years, we’ve gotten good at them. They’re 90 minutes, we have sponsors to help cover the cost of the food and the venue, and all we do is plan, promote and teach super valuable content to our audience.
These Wisdom Wednesdays are a great way for us to make connections with other crazy-minded people like us! We generally want these meetings to have nothing to do with mortgage lending so that the content is relevant to anyone. Instead, we cover topics like:
2. Surround yourself with professionals
Many of the teams I oversee have their own “Board of Advisors.” In short, these advisors are typically a group of people who are in complementary professions that meet monthly for a structured learning opportunity, taught by the people within the group of a guest they bring in.
While the location usually rotates – as does the main speaker for the event – creating this environment helps give small business owners a place to collaborate. Some advisors may ask the host to teach, while others will have the host simply host and ask another person to take over the speaking. No matter how you do it, these people become your friend and tend to be a huge source of business over time.
3. Roundtable Events
This year, the Michael Creed Team has been trying out a new event with a title company as a cohost. This event is our Luminate Home Loans and Stewart Title Roundtable Luncheon. We run this on a predictable schedule once a month, at the same location, but we invite different people every time.
And honestly? We leave it up to chance more than taking too much effort to invite people. Instead, we promote by posting the graphic we have on social (usually we pick one and alternate back and forth each month from LinkedIn to Facebook), and then let the first eight people who say they are coming, come.
The group has been different each month, and sometimes we have a no-show – and that’s okay! The fact is, it’s been super powerful to help us grow and connect with more people. Here’s an example of the program:
Because I, the co-host, am the only one that knows the question before the event, it helps to keep the conversation nice and informal. That then drives the conversation through the ordering process and the food preparation process. Usually, we’re wrapping up our main discussion just as the food arrives. But it’s perfect because we all get to enjoy amazing food while talking about all the ideas the table has shared already.
Examples of Questions I've asked
So, what happens next?
From these events, I’ve had many one-on-ones happen, and have even closed a few business deals. I find that this is a great way to make sure people can get to know me intimately enough, but in a way that I’m not consuming nine hours of my time to meet them all one-on-one. And, frankly, all 10 of us at the table have the same experience…in 90 minutes we were able to determine enough about nine other people to know if more time is warranted in a one-on-one.
I am fortunate to have face-to-face conversations with 40+ people a week, usually more, because of the events I create and the events I attend. It’s the best use of the time I have found to run my production team and oversee all branch operations for Luminate Home Loans branches in Brookfield and Waukesha.
The only networking I do today is either group networking or deep dive lunches with those I have met in a group setting and already feel there’s a benefit to us investing more time together. That’s it. No one-on-one networking coffee appointments, no individual office networking meetings, nor will I do one-on-one happy hours—it’s either lunch or it’s a group, but even better if it’s both! It’s not at all uncommon for me to book these lunches 1+ months out into the future due to the number of people in the queue. It works—if you have a system.
Want help getting some of your time back?
Just reach out! If at any point you would like to discuss this in more depth, I would love to chat with you. You can get in touch with me in several ways through my websites CloseWithMichael.com or LuminateYourFuture.com, or reach out to me on our social networks or in the Idea Collective. I look forward to networking – and not grabbing a coffee.
As a Producing Branch Manager, I’m responsible to manage all branch sales/non-sales personnel. My primary job responsibilities include originating residential mortgage loans, driving sales, recruiting amazing staff, training, and dealing with the rare personnel issue, as well as providing goals and objectives to the branch.