We are pleased and grateful to be able to hold events at the Leaf Software Solutions office. As we have recently developed a deeper relationship with local outsourced accounting firm A.C.T. Services, we put our heads together to find a way to add value to the business community. Here’s a synopsis of what we have been doing and where it may be going:
Event #1: Networking Reception
Both Leaf Software Solutions and A.C.T. Services have loyal, appreciative customers. Our core values line up nicely, and we’re both interested in nurturing our existing customers so they see us as partners, as consultants, and as a resource to call upon to help their businesses thrive. We wanted to find a way to bring our diverse group of business people together for mutual benefit. What kind of event would draw people in on a weekday? Good food, a good program, a convenient time and place, plus the promise to the audience that they’d leave the event with “actionable takeaways.” Let’s try this and see what happens!
Promoting the Event
We found a suitable date, and decided to only invite current customers and promote this event as an invitation only, private event. We touted that this event is ideal to strengthen your network, with a focus on creating referral opportunities. Who do you know that may be a good match for my product / service? We encouraged intentional and active networking, and created an environment where that behavior was expected. With a combination of email marketing and phone call outreach, within three weeks we had 50 people registered for the event!
At the Event
Both Leaf and A.C.T. have an exceptional staff person dedicated to and passionate about event planning. Room setup, decor, signage, giveaways, relationships with food vendors, beverage selection, name tags – no detail slips by these people. Their attention to detail affords the hosts and the guests the utmost pleasure – enjoying the event. We structured the agenda to allow for mingling, snacking, and meeting people in the cafe area of the Leaf office. This also allowed for those arriving just a little later to enjoy the program. This 50 or so minutes of unstructured conversation in a relaxed environment was followed by opening the doors of the larger assembly room and an announcement to find a seat.
Jim Selvio of Leaf and Tina Moe of A.C.T. Services welcomed the guests to the event, and re-stated our intentions were to have them leave with something of value. That value would be meeting a new person – and that person may be a valuable referral partner, or be able to introduce them to a person who could benefit from their service. Our featured guest and keynote speaker was Mike Tooley, a certified Leadership and Strengths Coach and co-founder of Upstream Principles, LLC. Mike’s topic was Healthy Conflict: How Disagreement and Candor Drive Winning Teams. His talking points were intriguing, and many felt compelled to learn more.
We also left time at the end to mingle, when exquisite desserts were offered back in the cafe. That certainly did the trick! We also made sure everyone left with a complimentary copy of Joanne Black’s book No More Cold Calling. (Little did we know at the time we’d call upon the lessons in her book to create the program for our next event.)
Event #2: Beyond Networking – Convey Your True Business Impact
Based on the success and positive feedback of the first event, we started brainstorming on what we could offer next. The area we focused on was True Business Impact (borrowed from Joanne Black). We know busy people want value from their time, and learning how to “network properly” was a topic we thought would help even the business professionals we were targeting. With just a bit of practice, your introductions can be enhanced by conveying your Business Impact Statement. If the person you’re meeting indicates interest, that statement may be followed by a Business Impact Story.
We followed the same marketing format we found to be successful from Event #1, hand-picking customers and colleagues who we thought would benefit from the program, as well as offer networking and referral opportunities to others in attendance. We intended this event to be more cozy, and more hands-on with interaction and cooperation creating Statements and Stories together.
Jim Selvio of Leaf led this exercise after the prerequisite food and beverage selection offered in the Cafe. The audience got to know one another on a deeper level as we shared our impact statements and stories. Feedback and criticism were welcomed, and our stories were tweaked and restated. Did we find value from the content? We certainly did.
Our goal is to continue to add value to our customers businesses. We want them to thrive, and see us as partners and consultants to help them succeed. So how do we continue this momentum? We have talked about formalizing the networking process, which helps to answer the question, “So I met three new people tonight, told them my Impact Story . . . now what?” Stay tuned on how this plays out, we have some ideas in mind.