October 14th I had a booth at the "Network or Starve" event sponsored by the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce. I definitely feel it was aptly titled! It was held at the Breezy Hill Party House, which used to be the Valley View. Rachel Heywood and her staff did a fantastic job with the remodel (I can't wait to see what they do with the other half of the building!), and the food was fantastic. A couple of the Buffalo Jills were there signing autographs, and it was a Bills themed night with trivia questions and prizes to win. All the vendors with booths donated door prizes, and I would like to congratulate W. Glen Sedam on winning the gift certificate I offered. During the networking, I realized how rusty I am at showcasing my services, so I thought my hindsight might help you see 20/20 if you have a similar event in your future.
Make sure you can describe what service or product you offer in a couple sentences, including what your businesses unique benefits are. Don't assume that people know what you do from your business name and tagline, and then launch into a sales pitch. People make assumptions, and its better for you if you start the client or customer relationship based on facts.
In that same "assumptions" vein, don't pass by someone who you feel won't need your product or service, or who is your competition. Your goal should be to get good information about your business out to as many people as possible so that your name is the one they think of when the need arises. Also, it has been my experience that other small business are willing to help with advice and recommendations - invaluable information when you are trying to be as efficient as possible.
Ask questions - I know you're thinking "well duh Heather!" - What I mean is don't ramble on and on to fill the conversation void. And ask questions that will help you learn the most about this prospect relating to your industry. I usually ask "How do you advertise now?", "Who does your printing?" or "What do you like best about your business?".
And maybe most importantly, give away bags. Rivellino Realty did, and I thank them for it - so I could carry all my freebies home easily!
Have a great 4th quarter, and start those plans for 2010! Heather