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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on August 9, 2000. All rights

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NJAWBO Networking: Ellen Silverman

The most natural sale is to someone you know," says

Ellen Silverman, of Ellen Silverman Advertising Inc. Schools

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

message

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

"Curing

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

at 732-828-3394.

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.

Arlene Schragger of ads Public Relations & Marketing will

discuss

the basics of networking (E-mail: adspr@msn.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

business

19 years ago and has in-depth experience in all phases of marketing,

public relations, advertising, promotions and consulting

(908-781-2001).

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

people

do; and then they wonder why nothing is happening, she says.

What networking is: "People meeting people and profiting from

the connection."

Results don’t just happen, Silverman reports. "Networking takes

time, patience, practice, attitude, and a plan.

Take any opportunity. "On vacation I was talking to

man who was a manufacturer in Bayonne. I asked him who did his

marketing

and gave him my card. I’m not promoting myself — but you never

know. Always have a card in your pocket," says Silverman

Don’t always choose the bigger events for networking.

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."

Be choosy when taking cards. "You don’t want

everyone’s

cards in the room. Go home with up to a dozen cards.

Move on swiftly. Chance encounters, she warns, are not

opportunities to do any real business. "Even at a business

function,

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

that."

Make careful notes. "I lose cards instantly,"

says Silverman, and she has devised a built-in protection system

against

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

relationship."

Be rigorous about follow up. "Call the following week

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

longer

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."

Be patient. "I went to one organization for 2 1/2

years before I got my first bit of business. It takes a positive

attitude

and it takes a plan."

Be ready to do business with people who do business with

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

people

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

instance,

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."

"You never know where your new client/customer is going

to come from and who is going to refer you or open a door for

you,"

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

business

that can pay a big dividend."

— Barbara Fox


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