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Putting REAL into relationship building: through networking opportunities, members learn why relationship building is key to making new connections.

We hear it time and again: the number one reason companies join the Chamber is to network and make connections with peers that may result in future business relationships. Because this is what out members want, Chamber staff continuously seek out ways to allow members to connect with one another.


Changing the Way You Network Today

Networking can be tough. At a regular networking reception or mixer, there always seems to be the "odd man (or woman) out." Each person has different comfort level when it comes to approaching a stranger. After receiving feedback from members that they needed help networking, the Chamber sought out a solution. While researching what other business organizations do to assist members with networking, the Chamber found the 5-Minute Networking program.

The appeal of 5-Minute Networking is that it takes the awkwardness out of starting a conversation. The program, similar to speed dating, offers the efficiency of five-minute, one-on-one meetings with potential clients from targeted companies based on the participants' business interests.

"The Detroit Regional Chamber's 5-Minute Networking program is one of the most effective and productive methods of networking," said Therri Oberdick of the Oakland Business Review. "AS a participant it is fun, and it has resulted in new business! I recommend the program."

Since its launch, 5-Minute Networking has taken the region by storm. Because space is limited, most events fill up as soon as registration has opened. After surveying each session's participants, over 95 percent indicated they enjoyed the event, found it beneficial and would attend again.

Over the next 12 months, the Chamber will hold six 5-Minute Networking sessions at various locations throughout the Detroit Region. The next 5-Minute Networking will take place August 9.

A Break Down of the 5-Minute Networking Experience

(1.) Describe your business.

(2.) Hear about your match's business.

(3.) Exchange business cards.

(4.) Pass on referrals.

(5.) Move on the your next five-minute meeting when the buzzer rings.

For details go to: www.detroitchamber. com/ events, or call Meghan Richards at (313) 596-0372 or e-mail:

Since our members want to network, Chamber staff is careful to make sure members have the tools and resources needed to network successfully. In May, the Chamber hosted a Best Practice Workshop called, "A Lasting Impression = Lifelong Success: How Are You Perceived?" featuring Terri Moon, president, Terri Moon & Associates. Moon provided over 70 Chamber members with her secret strategy for building connections through networking.


After switching up seating locations for all attendees and encouraging them to get out of their comfort zone, Moon told the crowd that, when making contacts, she does not initially pass out business cards, because networking is about learning who people are and what they are all about. "Calling people just when you want something is not going to build connections for you," said Moon.

Having the time to network at events is also a priority when determining an event schedule. From the Small Business Conference to networking receptions and the International Consular Gala, every event has a networking component; however, some events are more recognized for networking opportunities than others.

Working the Porch

It is no secret: with 1,700 attendees, business leaders and professionals from companies of all sizes and local, state and federal legislators, the Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference is easily recognized as the annual "must attend" for anyone looking to make connections. Throughout the three-day event at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, over, 1,200 minutes of networking is worked into the conference agenda. This calculation doesn't even include the extra hours attendees may spend during the down time, away from Grand Hotel.

"Networking at Mackinac is about much more than just collecting and distributing business cards. It's about realizing that a year's worth of meetings can be accomplished in three days," said Matt Friedman, partner, Tanner Friedman.

Friedman, a seasoned public relations executive, has attended several Mackinac Policy Conferences and believes networking is easier at the conference because everyone is dressed casually, accessible and open to conversation.

"Each year one of my clients is able to have a conversation that would have been difficult, awkward or otherwise a challenge to put together, simply by networking at Mackinac." Friedman said.

This year, the Chamber will introduce 5-Minute Networking on the island. The event will be held on the Conference's opening day. The facilitated networking program was targeted for first-time attendees, but also open to those who return year after year.


Michigan Representative Barbara Farrah has attended the Conference for the past four years. "I return because the conference gives me the opportunity to network with business decision makers in Southeast Michigan, all at one place and at one time, which is unique and extremely beneficial to a legislator."

Both legislators and businesses continue to return to the Conference year after year because of the valuable contacts they make.

"The Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference has been a central part of our firm's marketing for several years,'' says Mike DeVilling, executive vice president, John Bailey & Associates Inc. Public Relations. "Given that we've tripled in size since 2003, we see Mackinac as a wise investment of our time and resources."

Although the Mackinac Policy Conference only comes around once a year, there are many other events your business can gain access to through the Chamber, including other business and professional organizations providing venues for you to make connections. For a list of up and coming business events, see pages 110-111. Providing new, unique networking opportunities for members will continue to be a priority for the Chamber.

Veteran Macknac Policy Conference attendee 16 years, Terri Oprea, presidert & CEO, Mort Crim Communications, Inc. gives his ten tips for networking during the Mackinac Policy Conference or any other event.


When going into any networking situation, especially one with 1,700 people, it is very important to have realistic expectations. Networking is about relationship-building, not closing business.

(1) NEVER come to Mackinac intent on closing business with people you don't have an ongoing relationship with.

(2) NEVER introduce yourself and start pitching business.

(3) NEVER network with the intention of manipulating your new relationships to your own benefit.

(4) NEVER drink too much on the island. You'll look like a fool.

(5) NEVER complain about the weather if it's nasty. Whiners don't win.

(6) ALWAYS "bone up" on the issues of the day before you arrive - and give your opinion transparently and ask others of theirs.

(7) ALWAYS show up for events and speakers. They're something to talk about.

(8) ALWAYS ask speakers questions whenever possible. Shrinking violets are invisible on the island.

(9) ALWAYS talk to people you don't know about what you've seen and heard on the island-and how it affects your business. This is a POLICY conference, after all!

(10) ALWAYS follow up off-island with people who seem genuinely interesting to you. Continue to resist the urge to "sell." Business comes through authentic relationships, not phony ones.
COPYRIGHT 2007 Detroit Regional Chamber
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:FOR OUR MEMBERS
Date:Jun 1, 2007
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