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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on August 9, 2000. All rights
NJAWBO Networking: Ellen Silverman
The most natural sale is to someone you know," says
and scout troops acknowledge that axiom, as they send their hordes
of grade school fundraisers out to peddle everything from chocolate
bars and cookies to gift wrapping paper and peanut brittle. This
gets retranslated, upon maturity, by insurance agents, stock brokers,
and job applicants.
Still, even the best sales people flinch when it comes to knowing
how far to go when leveraging contacts. Silverman will speak on
the Common Cold Call: Networking for Success" at the Middlesex
Chapter of NJAWBO’s summer membership open house on Thursday, August
10, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at University Inn and Conference Center
at Rutgers. The event is free by reservation; call Sue Dreifus
Mercer’s chapter of NJAWBO will hold a similar open house on Thursday,
August 17, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Borders bookstore in Nassau Park.
the basics of networking (E-mail: email@example.com). The chapter usually
meets at the Palmer
Inn. Call 609-924-7975. The New Jersey Association of Women Business
Owners (NJAWBO), the only state-wide organization of its kind, has
15 chapters with a total of 1,000 members.
"Creating relationships is not only crucial to the success of
your business (the sale), but easier and less stressful than selling
to strangers," says Silverman. "Knowing some simple techniques
of networking opens pathways to success."
Silverman is a former English teacher and an alumna of Simmons College
in Boston and Jersey City State. She founded her Pluckemin-based
19 years ago and has in-depth experience in all phases of marketing,
public relations, advertising, promotions and consulting
She is a founding member and past president of this chapter, has held
numerous positions on the state board and was regional director on
the member services council for the national association. She was
an elected member and public relations chair of the state delegation
to the 1996 White House Conference on Small Business.
Networking can be done on an individual (one-on-one) basis or through
a group, but what it is not is joining lots of organizations
and going to lots of meetings. "Networking is more than showing
up at a function, smiling, sitting with your friends, eating dinner
(breakfast or lunch), and going home." This is what a lot of
do; and then they wonder why nothing is happening, she says.
What networking is: "People meeting people and profiting from
Results don’t just happen, Silverman reports. "Networking takes
time, patience, practice, attitude, and a plan.
man who was a manufacturer in Bayonne. I asked him who did his
and gave him my card. I’m not promoting myself — but you never
know. Always have a card in your pocket," says Silverman
Silverman says her networking skills fail to flourish at galas such
as the recent Small Business Association’s awards luncheon. "Some
people can walk into a room of a thousand people and do well, but
I like a more intimate group. At a luncheon, people are hanging out
with people they know and you are at one table. If you start talking
business they give you these quirky looks. But if you go to a chamber
breakfast, people are there to make connections, and they are open
to talking about business."
cards in the room. Go home with up to a dozen cards.
opportunities to do any real business. "Even at a business
if I am going with networking in mind, I am not going to sit for an
hour and do a needs assessment. You get a little bit of information
and move on to the next person. Give them a card and leave it at
says Silverman, and she has devised a built-in protection system
loss. "Either that night or the next morning make a note on the
back as to where you met the person and what the conversation was
about. Then when you call you can say `How was the graduation?
Or, you are trying to hire somebody for the office? Let me put it
in my network.’ You have to make those notes before you forget and
then immediately get it into wherever you store it — your Rolodex,
your computer, or your Palm Pilot. It opens the door to building a
and say it was nice meeting you and pick up from there. You have an
opening to pursue it in a non-social situation, and now it is no
a cold call." Chat for a bit and then say, "by the way, I
was serious, I would like to know more about your needs."
years before I got my first bit of business. It takes a positive
and it takes a plan."
you. "I am looking for people to sell me and looking for people
I can sell to," she says. "Once I made a list of all the
I had met that year, and there were 80 of them, with a 50/50 split
between buyers and sellers." She might be able to hire, for
graphic designers, writers, or printers, and she buys office supplies,
insurance, and other services. "My insurance agent, accountant,
and investment broker are all people I have met at NJAWBO. I have
also done marketing for these people. It’s been a two-way street."
to come from and who is going to refer you or open a door for
says Silverman. "The more people who know you and know about you,
the more people there are in your network to create business for you
and/or do business with you. Networking is an investment in your
that can pay a big dividend."
— Barbara Fox
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