WPEO events are valuable tools that vary in size and purpose— they are all designed to help the female business owner. From intimate roundtable lunches with corporate buyers, to larger meetings with hundreds of buyers and other women entrepreneurs, these forums are inclusive and supportive.
My first networking event in New York City in the mid- summer was a real breakthrough for me. I had no clue what to expect. The place was packed. I didn’t know anyone except for a few faces I recognized from the WPEO website. I imagined there would be talk in some sort of foreign business language and I would be an awkward outsider standing alone. The butterflies were not flying in formation. (And where were my business cards?) I needed a glass of water, or something. Then someone from the team smiled at me and introduced me to others at my table. That really helped break the ice. Everyone turned out to be authentically warm and friendly. And I was not the only man there with sweating palms, either.
That afternoon, I listened to some great speakers from the corporate world as they explained how to capitalize on being a part of WPEO.
Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your next WPEO event:
1.Be sure to introduce yourself. Just say hello.
2. Not everyone talks about business, their company, or about themselves. Many people will introduce themselves, ask what you do, and listen.
3. When involved in a conversation, remember to smile. And don’t be afraid to excuse yourself when it’s time to move on.
4. Make learning your goal. The main purpose of any networking event, large or small, is to learn as much as you can from the invited speakers, as well as from the other attendees.
5. Connect comfortably with as many potential buyers as you can, but keep it light and friendly. For example: “Hi my name is _____. Here’s my card. May I have yours?”
6. When asked, learn to provide a simple, short, and concise explanation about what you do. Most people you meet will not be able to remember everything you tell them about your company. First impressions are vital. Then focus on follow-up.
7. Follow up with any prospect 24 to 48 hours after the event. Write a personal email saying that it was great meeting them at the event. Include a brief outline of who you are and when you plan to call them to see if they might have any questions.
8. Remember—you are not alone. Networking events force you out of your comfort zone. My first event was intimidating, but much of my fear was in my own imagination.
9. Don’t try to make too many connections in one day. Focus on quality, not quantity. And don’t feel defeated if you didn’t get everything you expected from any one encounter. A few awkward encounters are human and natural. Praise yourself for stepping out.
10. Ask questions. Visit the WPEO website. Attend the events as often as you can. Keep your face out there. WPEO is networking at its best!
SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Get WBENC certified, if you aren’t already. It is simple and straightforward:
1. Is your business 51 percent owned, managed, and operated by one or more women who are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents?
2. Does your documentation reflect this?
3. Can you schedule a site visit for WPEO to interview with the female owner(s)?
4. Have you read WBENC’s Standards and Procedures?
It’s really that simple. And you’ll be able to enjoy all the advantages and opportunities that being certified can offer your woman-owned business.
Take it from this WPEO enthusiast—you’re going to love it. And they will love you, too!