Posts in Networking
Networking in Charleston: Hatch Tribe

This post is the fourth and final post in a blog series about some of the best networking and meetup groups in Charleston. Check out last week's post to learn more about Lowcountry Local First.

“Entering a networking event, you can feel the eyes of every attendee fix on you for a few brief seconds, like a pack of hungry wolves. They come up and shake your hand with a poisonously false enthusiasm, and as soon as they work through a quick calculation and conclude that you’re not “important” their eyes start flickering around the room, looking for their next meal.”

— John Westenburg, themission.co

That quote is from a blog post entitled “Networking sucks. Because people don’t give a shit.” That’s a pretty harsh perspective, but most of us can relate. Yes, networking can indeed suck… But more often than not, the suckiness has more to do with bad networking habits than human nature itself.

Networking can be a phenomenal waste of time and an absolute joy-kill  if: A. you are networking within groups where people have little or nothing in common (professionally or personally), or B. you have a networking script/sales pitch that prevents you from connecting with others in an honest and meaningful way.

Fix A, and B tends to work itself out. Find a group that understands your struggles and shares your goals... Substantive conversation and meaningful connections are sure to follow.

Hatch Tribe has got this all figured out. And while the organization caters to female business owners, all professionals can learn a thing or two from their priorities (education and relationship building vs. promotion and prospecting).  

Emerge Summit photos by Abby Murphy Photography from @HatchTribe

Hatch Tribe is a private business that provides coaching and mentoring services. It is not a traditional membership-based networking group, but Hatch Tribe Founder Hillary Johnson hosts a variety of gatherings and small groups where women entrepreneurs can connect with (and ultimately learn from) one another. Events are facilitated in a way that limits promotion and encourages honest conversation...

“We believe in women supporting women. We believe in collaboration over competition. We believe in real talk, encouragement, and inspiration.”

— Hillary Johnson, Hatch Tribe Founder

In short, Hillary is creating a professional community that cares.

One of our favorite Hatch Tribe groups is the CEO Collective. It’s an intimate environment, where women business owners can connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, solicit advice and share experiences. These small groups (of no more than 7 women) are handpicked by Hillary to limit competition and promote “co-working.” Additionally, participants must meet a few requirements to ensure that they are a good fit.

While there are many examples of women-only networking groups, we find the execution of Hatch Tribe events to be top-notch and sincerely focused on what matters most—education and support. The organization offers realistic guidance that can be put to immediate and impactful use both in business and in life.  

Networking doesn't have to suck. Find a group that you truly care about, and it is likely that they will return the favor. We hope you've enjoyed reading about our favorite groups over the past few weeks. There are plenty of others deserving of praise, but the Charleston Metro ChamberSea Islands ChamberLLF and Hatch Tribe are certainly moving and shaking the local networking scene. Have a favorite of your own worth sharing? We would love to hear about it! Email us with the details. Until then, happy networking!

Networking in Charleston: Lowcountry Local First

This post is the third in a blog series about some of our favorite networking and meetup groups. Check out last week's post to learn more about the Sea Island’s Chamber of Commerce, and be sure to tune in again next week for our final feature.  

If you own a business in the Lowcountry, we highly recommend Lowcountry Local First membership. LLF is a nonprofit advocate for local economic development and an authentic voice for local, independent businesses. The organization has two primary initiatives, Good Business and Good Farming, which provide training and support to business owners and promote awareness among the general public.

“We know that for every $100 spent at a chain store, an average of $14 is reinvested in the community. For every $100 spent at a local store, an average of $45 is reinvested in the community. That money maintains our schools, paves our roads, employs our friends and neighbors and makes the Lowcountry a wonderfully diverse and interesting place to live.”

— Lowcountry Local First

Yes, other organizations in town advocate for local business, but LLF's advocacy is exclusively local. As such, membership is limited to independent, locally owned businesses that meet certain criteria

Benefits of membership include exposure through the LLF business directory, free admission to monthly Member Mixers and discounted access to other events. Several of LLF’s reasonably priced membership levels include additional perks such as sponsorship opportunities and the ability to bring guests to Member Mixers free of charge. Mixers are hosted by various business all over town, and the events are a great way to meet other locally-minded, well-connected professionals. Nonmembers can attend (usually $10 at the door), but RSVPs are required. And always RSVP early… Mixer events fill up fast!

LLF Member Mixer at the Cedar Room, Photos by Foxworthy Studios

Rooted ID has benefited significantly from connections formed at LLF events, and we recently took advantage of their Commercial Space Services. LLF members now have access to two new resources—the Locals Only Space Database and the Commercial Space Advisory Team. The database includes listings for unique commercial properties (retail, office, warehousing, storage and other single occupancy and shared commercial spaces) and the advisory team provides support to business owners who are new to the lease negotiation process. 

Want to learn more about Lowcountry Local First? RSVP to a Member Mixer, or visit LowcountryLocalFirst.org.

Networking in Charleston: Sea Islands Chamber of Commerce

This post is the second in a blog series about some of our favorite networking and meetup groups. Check out last week’s post to learn more about the Charleston Metro Chamber, and be sure to tune in again next week for yet another feature.  

If you are pursuing business opportunities on or around Folly Beach, James Island, Johns Island, Kiawah, Seabrook or Wadmalaw, we highly recommend membership in the Sea Islands Chamber of Commerce. This private, non-profit organization is working hard to inspire economic advancement on a micro level, and their small town approach to networking benefits Sea Islanders and “outsiders” alike.

Rooted ID has not placed membership with the Sea Islands Chamber, but we are seriously considering it. Membership is not limited to island businesses, and most Sea Islands Chamber events are open to non-members (a great way to test the waters). The chamber hosts monthly After Hours Networking events, Lunch & Learns and Networking Breakfasts. We attend the After Hours events on occasion and love the laid back, neighborly vibe. 

Sea Islands Chamber membership includes access to all events, a monthly newsletter, the marketing opportunities there-in and a listing in the chamber’s member directory. Members also receive the enthusiastic support of the chamber's Executive Director, Karen Thompson.

Karen is about as local as it gets. She was born and raised on James Island, and her family has been in the area since 1670. After having worked 20+ years for an advertising agency, Karen founded the Sea Islands Chamber in 2010 to put her marketing skills to work serving the community she loves. She's a valuable resource and has organized a series of popular community events,  such as the Annual Artwalk and Homegrown Holiday Bazaar, that bring area business owners and Sea Island residents together. 

Is Sea Islands Chamber membership right for you? Email Karenjoin the chamber's mailing list, or attend an After Hours event to learn more!

Networking in Charleston: Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce

Networking plays a crucial role in our marketing strategy here at Rooted ID. We've attended events, joined a few organizations and have developed some favorites along the way. We will be sharing some of those throughout the month of May. Marketing advice is never one-size-fits-all, but knowledge is power! Hopefully our experiences will inspire you to do a little research of your own. This post is the first in our networking series. Be sure to tune in next week for another feature.

In the spring of 2015, The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce hosted a series of focus groups in which member organizations shared opinions regarding existing and future chamber offerings. These conversations were designed to address the specific needs of small business members (organizations with 50 employees or less). Prior to 2015, the chamber had been met with some criticism from small business owners who, despite accounting for 80% of chamber membership, felt that events and programming catered to larger organizations such as Boeing.

The Charleston Metro Chamber listened and responded posthaste.

Small Business Package 

A Small Business Package program was introduced in July of 2015, making chamber membership more advantageous to small businesses than ever before. The program delivers a wealth of services and support to propel business growth (such as Ask the Expert events and educational webinars). They also offer exposure through the chamber’s membership directory and various leadership roles. We were one of many businesses to place membership after the chamber renewed their focus on smaller organizations.

 
I genuinely enjoy meeting new people, and chamber events have been a great vehicle for that. While we have certainly gained business from our chamber membership, I most value the educational opportunities. I know more about local infrastructure than ever before… I am more engaged with my community and feel more ‘plugged in’ to the Charleston metro area as a whole.
— Jennifer Morrow, Rooted ID Founder
 

Chamber events have opened a lot of networking doors for us and may help you to expend your professional network too. Most events are open to non-members, and some (such as the Chamber Connect events) are completely free to attend.

Local Area Chambers 

The Charleston Metro Chamber has taken small business offerings a step further with an “enhanced delivery model.” Chamber events and programs are now segmented into Local Area Chambers (Central, East, North and West) so that members have convenient access to information that is most relevant to where they live and work.

This segmented approach isn’t just a model for chamber events; it has truly influenced how the Charleston Metro Chamber develops and disseminates programming. Their website reflects this effort. Large websites are notoriously difficult to navigate, but the chamber has added some useful ways to filter information. Search functions and color coded info helps users locate events and programs designed for their area without sacrificing the big picture view of what’s happening city-wide.       

Interested in chamber membership, but not quite ready to take the plunge? Try an event! Jennifer regularly attends BYIB and Connect West events. Email Jennifer@RootedID.com if you would like to meet up. 

Networking Tips for Small Business Owners

Networking is a cost effective way to enhance your marketing efforts, but networking opportunities are frequently neglected by small business owners. We shared an Entrepreneur article on our Facebook page earlier this week that contains some excellent networking tips. Today, we wanted to expand upon that with a few specific small business networking pointers of our own…

1. Keep an Open Mind

You are likely to meet prospective customers at networking events, but converting customers should not be your primary objective. Keep an open mind when meeting new people. In addition to new customers, you may find valuable referral sources, vendors or new hires that can help you to attract and retain even more customers over time. 

A salesy, shortsighted approach to networking has a much lower ceiling. Best case scenario, you will run out of people to sell to. Worst case scenario, thinly vailed sales pitches will damage your professional reputation. 

2. Be Yourself

Yes, you should absolutely spend time fine tuning some language about your product or service, but it’s important to keep things conversational. Ditch the rehearsed sales pitch. Hone in on the most unique aspects of your business, and speak candidly about them. You should be able to describe what you do (and why it’s special) in one sentence (two max). 

Make sure that you are truly listening when others are speaking. Ask questions, and look for ways to connect with your fellow networkers on a professional and personal level. 

3. Follow Up in an Appropriate Way

Your newfound networking friends probably grabbed one of your business cards, but there are effective ways to ensure that you stay in touch...

  • Connect on LinkedIn. Be sure to customize your invitation requests with details about where and how you met (i.e. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you at last week’s chamber event. I am sure we will run into one another again soon, but feel free to email me if you want to continue our conversation about…). 
  • Send a personalized message via email if your new contacts aren’t on LinkedIn or if you promised a more specific follow up. 
  • Don't call. Phone calls may seem intrusive unless one was specifically requested. 
  • Don't add new contacts to your email marketing lists unless they have formally opted in. 

4. Stay in Touch by Making Introductions

Consider making helpful introductions among professionals who would benefit from working with one another, or forward job listings to qualified candidates if someone in your network is hiring. When you make email introductions, it is best to contact each party individually before sending an email with everyone cc’d. This sort of professional match-making keeps you in front of your network and reinforces your reputation as a solutions provider. It may also encourage others to help you out, when you are in need of particular resource or recommendation.

When making introductions, always use your best judgement. Your referrals have the power to reflect positively or poorly upon you. Only vouch for colleagues that you trust.

Additional Tools and Tips

An agency like Rooted ID cannot effectively network on your behalf, but we can provide tools to enhance your networking efforts. PLANT sessions can be extremely beneficial to business owners who need help articulating the value of their product or service, and FEED sessions typically include some networking suggestions. Schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more. 

NetworkingJennifer Morrow