Over the course of the last 4 years I have attended hundreds of networking events, business mixers, and marketing breakfasts aimed at meeting real esate professionals and brokers. I have traveled around the Bay Area from San Jose to San Francisco and eastward from Walnut Creek to Livermore in search of networking opportunities. I have seen it all and done almost everything to raise the awareness of like minded professionals in regards to my consulting business.
Yet I believe I have found what is easily one of the most effective, action oriented, and professional networking events right in my backyard, Marin County. The event is a breakfast sponsored by the National Association of Women Business Owners held in Corte Madera’s Town Center at Illfornaio restaurant. The meetings begin promptly at 7:30am and run a full 90 minutes. The Marin breakfast meeting is once per month on Tuesday with the San Francisco breakfast meeting being held once per month on a Wednesday. What makes the NAWBO such a rich environment of networking information, business connections, and referral system?
This group is collaborative, goal oriented, and willing to share information and resources with group members. The very nature of these people is to help one another, without worry of compensation, reach their business goals. This is NOT set up like a BNI revival meeting where members are pressured into producing referrals, given very little valuable time to address the group, and often times never fully integrated into the group dynamic due to any number selfish obstacles.
Instead NAWBO meetings begin with an agenda. The agenda is then facilitated by a leader. Each attendee receives 2-4 minutes to express themselves during a “Needs and Leads” exercise. This portion of the meeting is worth it’s weight in gold for the following reasons:
First, members are allowed to tell their business story and elaborate beyond the 30 second elevator pitch.
Second, it provides a forum to relate a business owner’s perfect lead or need.
Third, it provides public speaking practice and the hones the ability to think on your feet.
The final portion of the meeting is dedicated to one member’s presentation of their business. Each speaker is given 10-15 minutes to relate their information with a solid Q & A session at conclusion.
The NAWBO offers both dinner and breakfast meetings. In addition, “Brown Bag” luncheon seminars with speakers provide more education opportunities from “experts” in a diverse number of fields.
In today’s meeting, October 23, I met the following business owners:
1. Michelle Lerman Partner with Lerman Law Partners, LLP. Michelle is an award winning lawyer concentrating on Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate law.
2. Jennifer Baum Managing Director of Peridot Productions specializing in project management and getting the job done right. Jennifer has one of the fastest growing new small businesses in the East Bay.
3. Joan Jovan President, JJovan Insurance Services, Inc. is a comprehensive financial services firm. Joan is dynamic and well versed in her field.
4. Judith Stark Owner Judith Stark Consulting. Judith specializes in IT solutions with one of her main concentrations in solutions for small business IT challenges.
5. Kelly McKae of Women’s initiative. Kelly facilitates programs that help “high potential low income” women achieve the dream of business ownership. This is a very worthwhile non profit that needs our help.
6. Vida Harband, Esq of Advanced General Counsel. Vida specializes in part time in-house general counsel.
7. Linda Hammond of Bay Area Move Management. Linda provides moving services that specialize in helping Seniors and Boomers with downsizing and moving. A very valuable service.
8. Vijaya Jhothi of Safronya retreat. Vijaya is the owner and provider of one of the most spiritual complete “wellness” day spas I have ever encountered. Safronya’s focus is on Ayurveda is the 5,000 year old Science of Life originated in India. This is truly an amazing place!
Our meeting today included 15 members and guests. I met with eight and I knew most of the rest after only one meeting. This breakfast is truly an amazing source of energy and authentic collaborative efforts. I love it!