Small in numbers, but big in information. That was the scenario of the North Central Chamber of Commerce’s “Transform your Networking in 2013” Night held Monday at Taso’s Restaurant that is located at 1500 Atwood Avenue in Johnston.
Terry Marquez Wildemann, a certified executive and success coach who owns Heart Centered Success that provides business-building guidance, delivered a powerful lesson in the oft-frustrating world of networking.
Wildemann, who lives in Middletown and has written several books, shared her experiences and expertise with attendees and wound up her 90-minute presentation with a question and answer session.
“I learned a lot from the presentation,” said Anthony Ursillo, a former entrepreneur who serves on the NCCC’s Board of Directors. Ursillo formerly once owned The Log Gift Shoppe at the Shane Bailey House on Route 44. “Her 10 steps seemed to give us a good ‘heads-up’ on understanding the networking process.”
Ursillo and other guests enjoyed dinner while Wildemann armed the audience with tips on how to maximize networking and other business marketing opportunities.
“Knowledge is power and that is what the NCCC is all about, educating the small business owner to the do’s and don’ts of running a business and making connections through seminars such as tonight’s, and especially during a tough economy,” Ursillo said.
Wildemann believes building relationships is critical to successful networking. Her 10 steps to do so included understanding what networking is all about; be prepared; dress appropriately; create your plan of action; create your 10-second intro; arrive 15 minutes early to events; become an ambassador; communicate positively; listen, listen and listen some more; and follow up.
“Basically, work with entrepreneurs to get past self-sabotaging behavior that gets in their way of success – business and life,” Wildemann said.
Chamber President Deborah Ramos said the presentation was part of the Chamber’s commitment to providing valuable services to member businesses.
“In 2013 we plan to expand our Business Booster Series and what a better way to start with some great education networking that Terry brought here tonight,” she said.
Ramos coordinated Monday’s program with the help of NCCC Events Coordinator Kelly Patz. They hope that Wildemann’s tips will help members step outside of their comfort zone.
“I often see the same people networking with the same people; they need to open up to new people, new possibilities. The key aspect of networking is building relationships, not selling,” she said.
Spending networking time selling a product can turn people off, she added.
“Another key aspect is to learn about others – don’t concentrate on just you. Learn more about them and what their interests and needs are,” Ramos said. “We all learned that tonight from Terry. She is a vibrant woman that brings life to the boring business world. She makes networking exciting.”
Taking a cue from Wildemann, Ramos suggested that business owners have a plan when it comes to networking.
“Do you really know your target audience? Do you really know who you would like to meet? Take a deep breath from your stressful day and leave it in the car. Be positive. That will surround you with positive energies and positive people,” she said.
Most importantly, Ursillo added, people must be open to learn new things.
“We all learn from each other and that is why I, as a Board of Director, encourage all members to attend as many functions as possible. It’s nice to socialize and catch up with those who we seemed to form friendships with over the year. I look forward to our next gathering and continuing to help and advise others through the hoops of running a small business,” he said.
NCCC’s January Business After Hours is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. and will be held at The Village at Waterman Lake in Greenville.
“This is a free networking event,” Patz said. “Food and drinks will be offered and, of course, there will be raffles.”
Patz said the Business After Hours would follow an election for the NCCC’s Board of Directors.
For planning purposes, Ramos and Patz asked those NCCC members planning to attend to register by calling 349-4674.