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Charity for all.

How often are you or your company bombarded with requests to buy tickets to an organization's scholarship dinner, benefit luncheon or a political banquet? These events are more than just a great social occasion that can be written off at tax time; they can offer you tremendous opportunities to network with individuals you may not get to meet--or greet--otherwise.

Take for example, Jim Chance, president of Environmental Data Consultants in Yonkers, N.Y., a 7-year-old design, engineering and project management firm that handles hazardous waste cleanup. In 1989, Chance attended a regional meeting of the National Black MBA Association in Boston and exchanged table conversation and business cards with Yvonne McCants, of Sommerville, N.J., a fellow member. McCants passed the card along to an associate, who was developing an information and tracking system of hazardous materials. The associate got Chance's foot in the door. "Although I went through the procurement office, she helped me define and clarify the parameters of the criteria that the company was looking for." Chance got the contract.

Banquets and benefits offer a naturally conducive environment to network, since most people are in a relaxed mood and open to sharing information about themselves and listening to others. These events can also be a valuable source when relocating to another city. When Denise H. Lloyd, founder and president of D.H. Lloyd & Associates Inc., an insurance brokerage firm headquartered in Washington, D.C., relocated there from New York City, she didn't know anyone. "Dinners and receptions were paramount in developing my business," she says.

"If you're going to buy a $200 ticket and turn it into a networking opportunity, then it's going to be a lot of work. But, I've found that it pays off," says Madeleine Moore, president of Moore Creative Marketing, a sales-promotion and marketing firm in Brooklyn, N.Y. Moore offers five points to make your "power party" networking more effective:

* Define why you're going and your purpose. Is this a business or social interaction?

* If possible, find out who's coming and plan to work the room. Have a "script" in mind, just in case someone introduces you to the "golden opportunity" you've been waiting for.

* If you're going to a cause-related event, find out who the sponsors are. Know something about the company and the causes it supports. This can provide entry into a conversation and position you as knowledgeable of their interests.

* Come early and stay late. This lets you meet everyone as they come in. And staying late allows you to make contact with as many people as possible and maximize opportunities.

* Scribble notes about your conversations on the back of the business cards you collect. Follow up later, preferably the next day, with a note expressing your pleasure and that you look forward to your next conversation.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:benefit events as opportunities for networking
Author:Whigham-Desir, Marjorie
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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