Making the B2B connection, and more, with a cup of coffee
How does a presentation by a small business owner and a chance to network afterwards benefit your business?
In just two sessions of the Southeast Community College Entrepreneurship Center’s Perk Up Thursday Coffee, I have personally witnessed presentations that are engaging and absorbing. The leadership qualities of the small business owners have shined through as they inform attendees of their successes and lessons learned along the way. Passion, drive and vision became evident as they shared their start-up story. The Q&A session that followed was revealing and insightful.
What I really appreciated was the time allowed afterward to connect with dynamic small business owners in the Lincoln, Nebraska, area.
Six Sigma Online touts seven benefits of business networking:
Learning about other businesses
Dorris Miller, of Community Development Resources, agrees that networking has proven to be an integral component of the coffee. She says, “(Perk Up Thursday) is important to get CDR’s name out... even if someone doesn’t need funds, they may be able to use some technical assistance from us or they may know someone that CDR can help.”
So far, the coffees have been extremely helpful to Travis Russell, Principal here at Artisan HR. He made a connection with an attendee whose business parallels - but does not compete - with his; they found a business-to-business link which might become mutually beneficial in the future.
But, much more than learning about a business and having the chance to network, my biggest take-away was to prepare an “elevator speech” that is ready to go whenever I come across business-to-business opportunities or when I meet potential clients. This spiel should include my passion, drive, and vision for what Artisan HR can offer.
Dorris agrees. She says, “I have refined my ‘elevator speech.’ And for a potential user of our services, it is almost as important to say something memorable or welcoming as it is to describe our business.”
Why should you take time out of your busy schedule to attend a networking event? The advantages are numerous. Among them:
Sharing useful information
Creating positive connections
Promoting yourself, your services, and your company
Establishing and building credibility
Increasing the self-esteem in yourself and others (Dorris notes, “I have improved my positive outreach to others. I am a positive person, but clearly expressing interest has improved.”)
So, here’s the start to my “elevator speech” for when I meet small business and nonprofit leaders at Perk Up Thursday:
“I got a lot out of today’s coffee, didn’t you? Did you know, here at Artisan HR, we provide one-to-one strengths-based coaching that will help you focus your passion, drive and vision; improve your presentation skills to get your message across; and hone your networking skills?"
How did I do?
Why not take advantage of a no-cost opportunity such as the Perk Up Thursday Coffee to build your business? You might find you agree with Dorris, who says, “I think that the SCC Coffee provides a ‘safe’ place for start-ups and micro-businesses, providing support as well as networking opportunities.” Attending may prove to be a huge return on your investment of time, well spent.
What do you glean from business owners’ start-up stories and from networking? Let’s start a conversation. Let me know in the comments below.
Kathryn and Travis hamming it up at the photo booth during one of the Perk Up Thursday coffee events, courtesy of Stratum Productions
Steve Bors, Director of the Southeast Community College Entrepreneurship Center, summarizes the Perk Up Thursday Coffee that takes place in the SCC Entrepreneurship Center Focus Suites:
The Perk Up Thursday Weekly Coffee “is an open coffee that is free for anyone to attend that has an interest in starting, owning or running a small business. We also attract a number of vendors that work with small business owners (bankers, lawyers, CPA’s, etc.).
The event is held every Thursday from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. Each coffee features a speaker (typically a small business owner) that gives a 15- to 20-minute presentation. We then open it up for questions and then finish with some networking time. Each coffee features free coffee from Lincoln’s Canyon Coffee Roasters and rolls or donuts. Our “regulars” enjoy learning about other small businesses and they value the networking time as well. I know of a lot of business connections that have been made as a result of our weekly coffee.
The coffee is held on the 3rd floor of the SCC Entrepreneurship Center, located at 285 S. 68th Street Place in Lincoln.
Artisan HR grows nonprofit and small business leaders through individualized coaching and training. Learn more at www.artisanhr.com.
Kathryn Brockmeier is the Research Analyst at Artisan HR. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.