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Be An Effective NetworkerWednesday 02/06/2013
DirkDirk Cummins / MainStreetChamber - Houston
Chapter President / State Director

How To Make Networking Work


Recently, a friend approached me and asked how she could successfully leverage her business by networking. This friend then attended one of our MainStreetChamber mixers and was impressed with The Chamber’s mission, the quantity and quality of the attendees and the leads she generated.


This question is not uncommon. In fact, many people who attend our events are not sure how to make networking work for their business. When I ask people how long they have been networking, most tell me they did for years but have stopped attending events because they never received business from them.  However, upon further questioning, I realized their approach was the problem.   The standard introduction, “Hi, I’m so-and-so with such-and-such and I do this” simply is not going to foster professional relationships nor close deals.


The person expects that the individual they have just given that introduction to will suddenly buy something or set an appointment. That approach may have worked in the 80’s and 90’s, but in an era of virtual communication and impersonality, people have a strong desire to do business with the people they like and the people with whom they have built a relationship.


So, to begin to make networking work and to successfully execute a winning approach, you first need to create a mind-set of giving. We have all heard the saying, “give and you shall receive.” What needs to be given is something of value.  In the case regarding my friend, we talked about what value she brings to her clients and specifically, what value does the client perceive?  As most business owners do, she went on to describe her products.  Products don’t provide anything of value in and of themselves; they’re simply solutions to problems.   People don’t care about owning a hammer and nail (products); they just want the picture hung on the wall (the solved problem).


Through reading reports, attending classes and talking to others who employed various solutions, she identified the common challenges that face her target market.  Voila!  She now has a report that she can offer free of charge to discuss those challenges.  Something of value.


In our next segment we will discuss how we use this strategy to create interest and how we transition our give first strategy into an appointment.



About Our Show Advisor: Dirk Cummins is a practicing financial consultant who attended the University of Virginia at Quantico, Virginia while serving in the United States Marine Corps. He is a CHARTERED FINANCIAL CONSULTANT® (ChFC®), and has completed the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® (CFP®)certification curriculum. Dirk is also a CERTIFIED DIVORCE FINANCIAL ANALYST™ (CDFA™). Dirk's areas of specialization include business and individual planning. Dirk's professional career began in 1974 in his hometown of Canton, Ohio. In 1978 he accepted a position with Lineberry Financial Group and relocated to Houston. He has held various positions within the financial services industry prior to starting his own firm. Dirk has been involved with numerous volunteer groups and is currently serving as the President of the MainStreetChamber Houston Chapter and State Director for the MainStreetChamber. He has also served on the Advisory Board for the Academy of Finance at Spring Branch ISD and on the Pro Bono Committee for the Financial Planning Association Houston chapter. He has also served as Past President of the Crossroads Chapter of Services Cooperative Association as well as a member of the Board of Directors. He has also served as an Advisory Board member of the Entrepreneurial Development Center and a member of the Board of Directors of Women Achieving Independence & Financial Success. He was a Republican Party Precinct Chair in Harris County, and an Election Judge in Harris County.


Dirk Cummins is the President of MainStreetChamber, LLC


Dirk Cummins is the President of MainStreetChamber. Dirk is an advocate of the MainStreetChamber philosophy of  “Give First and Expect Nothing In Return”. Dirk, a serial entrepreneur, reaches out to small businesses every day to help them grow their business by creating revenue where none existed before.


MainStreetChamber is a nationwide membership organization dedicated to the success of small business.


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