**I had the opportunity to send this piece to my friend Matt Monge’s blog – Workplace Mojo. Wanted to share it with my readers as well. Hope you enjoy!**
Credit union business development professionals need to be master networkers. Many times, the day doesn’t begin at 9:00 nor does it end at 5:00 for BD pros. That’s because they are out developing relationships at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast or an after-hours business card exchange sponsored by the local Economic Development Commission. The best credit union BD folks are always networking in some capacity and they have developed the skills to recognize an opportunity to start and develop relationships with centers of influence.
I often use an analogy when describing the acquisition of new business by credit unions. Basically, I remind people that our industry shouldn’t be compared to the movie “Field of Dreams.” Remember that one and the catch phrase that will live forever? “If you build it, they will come.” If only it was that easy!
BD pros have to go out and get the business but what if there was a way to get centers of influence from the community, small business owners, or other potential partners to come to you? I’d like to suggest a way to make that happen.
Contact local business groups and offer to host one of their many networking events at your credit union. Promote it as a “wine-tasting” event or something similar. Partner with local merchants to supply the food and beverages. A few things will happen if this is all done properly:
- You will have potential leads and partners “on your turf.” They will see the credit union first-hand, meet your executive team, and get a good sense of how the credit union operates.
- You will build good will with local business groups and vendors.
- At the end of the event, you will have qualified leads for future business partners, SEGs, and community partnerships.
It will be important that this event be open to the group’s members as well as non-members. After all, you’re going to want to invite your contacts! And always remember these tidbits for any networking event:
- Don’t hand your card to everyone in the room. Have 3-4 high-quality conversations at the event. Get to know people and allow them to get to know you.
- Listen more than you talk.
- Be likeable. If people don’t like you first, they will never do business with you.
Believe me – if you can get this to work – your credit union will benefit. You will be exposing dozens of local business and community leaders to your operation – all at the same time. You won’t get the chance to talk to everyone at the event so follow up with the attendees – thank them for attending and see where the conversation goes.
Networking is part of credit union business development – a BIG part of it. So mix it up a little and get people to come to you for a change instead of the other way around.