How to Network at a Non-BNI Event by Helen Brahms

By on April 3, 2015
Networking | Helen Brahms | How to Network at a Non-BNI Event

Networking | Helen Brahms  | How to Network at a Non-BNI Event


Do you belong to another networking group outside of BNI, like a chamber, a meetup group, associations, clubs?

The philosophy of BNI is Giver’s game. Not a lot of other networkings actually teach the giver’s game. If we give business to someone else, they will give business to us. They don’t teach that philosophy. They don’t teach the philosophy of how to connect people. Let’s at some techniques you can use when you’re out networking that will help you become the connector in the room. When we look at BNI, we consider that a hard networking group. That is, we have one person per profession in the group. Whereas compared to a Chamber of Commerce, which is a soft networking, where you have multiple people from one profession in a group. Throw into that you have your service networking groups, which are like your Lions, your Kiwanis, and your Rotaries. Service-oriented. And those ones you may get business out of, but usually you’re there for a purpose to serve people. When you go to a networking group like a chamber or something, what typically happens, is you’ve got 150 people hawking 150 products to 150 people that don’t want to buy anything. How many of you go with your credit card ready to buy something when you go to a networking meeting?

One thing I do when I go to a networking event is I go neutral. In fact, when I walk in, nobody can tell by what I’m wearing what I do. I have no logos on because if you wear something with a logo, you’re actually selling. You’re advertising. So think of it that way. The other thing I do is I carry my tool which is a Sharpie. Because Sharpie writes on business cards. Especially the shiny ones. And the other thing I do is I do not take business cards with me. And you’re probably all going to go, what?

Why no business cards you ask? Think of this… 150 people hawking 150 products to 150 people that don’t want to buy. You hand out 150 cards. You’re going to end up on 150 mailing lists that you don’t want to be on, being hawked 150 products that you don’t want to buy.What you do is you strategically position yourself as a buyer. You actually interview the people in the room to see if you want to do business with them. An interesting way of looking at things, right?

One of the most powerful women in the world is Oprah. What does she sell? She sells her influence. Let’s look at some ways to make you the Oprah in the room at a networking event. It doesn’t matter if the event is straight networking or at a training event like Networking Riches training event, or Create Your Million Dollar Message Intensive. When I go there, there are 5 people in the room that I want to get to meet.

The first one is the Organizer. Why do you think the organizer would be a good person to get to know? Because they know everyone who is going to be there. I always arrive early. The reason I arrive early is because the organizer usually needs help. I have gone to events where I have sat down and stuffed name tags into the holders. I’ve gone to events where I’ve actually ended up working the registration desk so I get to meet everybody as they come in. The reason I do that is so I can go up to them afterwards and say to them, for example, I say to the organizer, Kathy Miller, “Kathy, I have a house I need to sell. I need a really good real estate agent who can get me results. Is there one here?”

Kathy would then tell me, “Absolutely. You’ve got to know Eric Edelman. He’s been in the business for over 12 years. You’ve got to go talk to him because he knows how to market your house and get it sold. He’s got a 5-star rating on Zillow, which is really hard to get.”

I would then have Kathy introduce me to Eric. Why would I do that? It is then a warm referral and she gave me a third party validation on Eric and will give him one about me. That is more powerful than me finding him during the networking time and introducing myself to him.

The other person you get to know is the Speaker. Now why would you get to know the Speaker? It is very simple. He or she has the microphone. The speaker can mention anybody that they want to. They have the microphone. They are in control of the room. Do you think that would be a good influence, a good reason? If any of you ever get to meet my friend Casey Eberhart, you’ve got to ask him how he met Dr. Ivan Misner, because he has a great story about that which illustrates beautifully why you should get to know the speaker.

Whenever I go to any of Casey’s events, I always let him know that I’m there because I know there is a good chance he will mention me from stage. Again, third party validation for you. People want to know, why is Casey mentioning me from stage. Why would I be mentioning Kathy? Why would I be mentioning Eric? Don’t you want to know those people? They must be important if the speaker is mentioning them. So again, third party validation.

The other people in the room that you want to know are the Yappers or the Chatterboxes. They’re the people standing under a light or they they’re holding a light on themselves. And they’ve got a court of people standing around them. Why would you want to get to know those people? They have a network of people that they have influence with. Wouldn’t you like to be part of their network and meet some of the people in their network? I will admit at an event I am a self-proclaimed Yapper.

Those are the 5 people you want to get to know: the organizer, the speaker, and the 3 yappers. Because they are the people of influence in the room. Talk to them. One other thing that I do if I go to a networking or training event is if I find out how the speakers are in advance. Then I will go and – stalking’s not quite the right word, but it suits for now. I will actually go look them up on Facebook, LinkedIn, check out their websites, and if they’re on Facebook for example, I went to Maurice DiMino’s Create Your Million Dollar Message training session on how to be an effective presenter and he had a list of guest speakers. I went and found them on Facebook. Sent them all a private message about how much I was looking forward to meeting them at Maurice’s event and learning from them. I also friended them on Facebook and got to know a bit about them beforehand. One of the speakers, Sheryl Roush, actually responded. Sheryl is the CEO of Sparkle Presentations. Her whole thing is how to sparkle from stage. Those that know me, will know I love to sparkle. So do you think Sheryl and I might be sparkle sisters? My message to her basically said, “I can’t believe you’re in sparkle, because when people ask me how I am, I always say I’m super fantastic and sparkling!” What do you think happened when we got to the event? I went and found her, and I said, “Hi Sheryl. I’m Helen.” That was all it took and we had a big hug and brief conversation. Which was one of many that weekend. Sheryl is indeed a very sparkling and dynamic speaker. She even had this great purple outfit that she wore for her presentation that sparkled! It was awesome!

Another reason you get to know speakers too beforehand. I’ve got an event coming up in two weeks in Vegas. I’m already ‘stalking’ the speakers from those events and I’ll tell you, and there’s going to be a whole bunch of travel agents there. You want to stand out from other people in your profession? If you’re at a chamber where there might be several bookkeepers, several people doing Take Shape for Life, several electricians. You want to stand out from them by doing something different, by positioning yourself as the buyer or the connector. And here’s where the connecting part comes in. Say for example I go over and I meet Randy Brown. And I find out that Randy’s an estate planning attorney, does trust probates and all of that sort of stuff. So I have a great conversation with him, and I use the some of Bob Burg’s 10 Feel Good Questions to find out more about him. During our discussion it comes out that he needs to update his website so it is responsive.

Later I’m talking with Michael Caroff and I find out he does websites and SEO  and that websites now need to be responsive as over 50% of people are now looking at stuff on their phones and you need to have a responsive website. During our conversation I used F.O.R.M. (Family, Occupation, Recreation and Money) and during our conversation I find out he needs an attorney to help him with some Probate assistance. I then tell Michael I have someone he needs to meet. I walk Michael over to Randy and introduce them. I let Randy know that Michael may be able to help him make his website responsive. I tell Michael that Randy is an estate planning attorney who does probates and trusts and things and maybe able to help with your probate issue. They start talking. I just back away. And go off and connect somebody else. So now I have left those two talking and who are they going to be talking about when I leave? Me! Do they know what I do? No probably not. Because my goal is to walk out of the event having made some connections and for people to not know what I do. Later on, when these two guys make their business deals and all of that, they’re eventually going to come back and go, what does Helen do? I don’t know. Now they’re going to come back and ask, what do you do? Now I can tell them.

When networking find out what people do. Use Bob Burg’s 10 Feel Good Questions and F.O.R.M. (Family, Occupation, Recreation and Money). Become the Oprah of your business. Become the Oprah in the room. Get to know the speaker, the organizer, and the yappers. And then of course become the connector.

If you have any questions or would like to connect, please go to and set up a time for us to get on the phone or Skype and have a conversation.

Helen Brahms Luxury Travel Concierge Cruise Planners Call us at 818.528.8300

About Helen Brahms

Native New Zealander, Helen Brahms is a natural at hospitality. She focuses her 30+ years of customer service, 15 years in travel and tourism and her knowledge as a certified Elite Cruise Counselor to assist you to book and hold your retreat, mastermind, or client appreciation on an inspirational cruise AND at the same time, if you wish, you have the opportunity to raise money for your favorite charity. As a bonus you will experience her super fantastic sparkling personality! Helen is the host of the weekly Have2Travel Radio Show Wednesdays at 4pm pst and is the author of the book “Congratulations, You’re Going On a Cruise! Now What?” and a contributing author of “Passionistas Talk!: The Best of The Passion Point Interviews (Volume 1)“. Helen is also the Luxury Travel Correspondent for the Nationally Syndicated Show “The f word“.

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