Last week I wrote about joining the local Chamber of Commerce and why you should do that. I got a number of emails from folks saying they had been to mixers and it didn’t help at all. So here are my six rules for maximizing how going to chamber mixers will help your bottom line.
Two Ears, One Mouth
Everybody’s favorite subject is themselves. People love to talk about themselves. In fact, most people’s favorite word is their own name. All the Agamemnons reading this cheer right now! Did you hear that?
I’ve been to mixers where someone comes up and wants to spout out their entire business philosophy.
“Hi, I’m Agamemnon. I fix jewelry. I fix rings, cut diamonds, watches. Did you know we had a sale on watch batteries? I can fix your watch right now. I can also polish your watch or ring. You’re married - I can fix your wife’s jewelry. Blah, blah, blah.”
You almost lost me at “Hi, I’m Agamemnon.” We all have two ears and one mouth. But another thing that works is finding a commonality with others. Again, people love to talk about themselves.
So once you know who each other are and basically what you do, I like to ask questions of the other person. Things like successes of their business. What caused them to choose this business. If they’re new to the area. Questions that make them think about their business in a positive light.
We all have bummer stories and customers we dislike (no, it’s not you. Honest). But thinking about the successes we enjoy as part of being business professionals makes us proud. So you’re asking questions of them that brings out their pride.
Find the news
Everybody gravitates toward the people they know and are familiar with. That’s the benefit of Chamber mixers - eventually they’ll think of you first when they need whatever product or service you offer because you’ve become familiar to them.
This is also why some people hate mixers - people tend to gravitate toward people they already know so it feels like “cliques.” No, it’s just human nature hard at work.
So if you seek out the new people and engage them in conversation you’ll make new friends and soon you’ll be the person in your profession who those new people think of first.
As you find the new people you’ll find someone who has a product or service that is complimentary to others in the group. For example, if there’s a drywall specialist who’s new to the group it makes sense to introduce that person to the individual who builds houses. Now they’re both grateful to you because you’ve helped two businesses.
I always bring home the business cards that I get and try to make a connection. Maybe I’m like some odd form of matchmaker. Who knows. But people appreciate the connections for sure. They remember me for being helpful.
There were two people who offered the same services in one of the Chambers I belonged to in LA - myself and another provider. We both did music and sound and so we’d alternate providing music at the mixers.
My vision was to play upbeat, fun and happy songs at a volume level that people could talk over easily. I loved doing silly sound effects when the raffle was going on. So I definitely earned a lot of business from mixers.
Oh, and I smiled.
My competitor was called the frowner, but probably not to his face. A smile is the cheapest face lift you can get. And it’s free! And it’s infectious.
Don't bring business cards
Okay, that’s not entirely true. But I’ve been to mixers where someone is clearly working the room and passing out as many cards as they can. These cards probably are an environmental hazard because so many of them are thrown away.
I pretend I don’t have any and only pass them out if someone specifically asks for mine. I’d rather engage someone in a conversation about themselves and cause them to smile. Eventually they’ll know me well enough that they’ll have my number if I worked the mixers correctly.
Be Andy Griffith