8 things to do after a networking event in Boston

You did it. You attended a Boston networking event. Learned there was nothing to be nervous about. Met some REALLY interesting people, including 2-3 folks who could be quality business leads. Exchanged cards with other 20 others. Talk about a productive time.

Now what, though?

8 things to do after networking in Boston 2Well, we hate to break it to you, but follow-up to a Boston networking event is as (if not, more) important than the event itself. You set the foundation for new, amazing relationships – but now you need to develop them. Or else – and pardon if it sounds harsh – you basically wasted your time.

The good news: Follow-up isn’t hard. And you’ll see the benefits pay off in little time. There’s no secret science to it – some new business connections work differently from others. But here are some common threads to take note of:

Make notes on business cards. For every card you gathered, quickly jot down 1-2 things about each person – what the conversation was about, any interesting tidbits (they live in your part of Brookline, work at the same company as your college friend, or love to spend vacations in New Hampshire). The human attention span is short, but this will help you remember key facts moving forward.

Identify a short list: Prioritize those you met. Remember, networking is more about quality – not quantity. Highlight 3-5 individuals you want to truly develop relationships with. Questions to ask as you evaluate: Can my career benefit from them? Would they present new opportunities from my business? Do I have a lot to learn from them? Can we mutually benefit from each other? If you can answer “yes” about someone, add them to the list.

Connect on LinkedIn: Now take that list, log onto LinkedIn, and “Connect” with these individuals. Include a “It was nice to meet you” message if you’d like. LinkedIn is an incredibly valuable platform to place some permanency with your new connections.

(Side note: You can always request to connect with all others you met, too; that’s perfectly fine)

Follow them on Twitter: If it’s not on their business cards, do a search by name (in quotation marks), and if they’re on there, follow away. You don’t necessarily need to @reply them immediately (they’ll notice you followed them), but keep an eye on their accounts, and re-Tweet or @reply any interesting content moving forward.

Do NOT Facebook friend them: This one is a little dicey – some might say it’s okay, but we’d hold off.  Better to be safe than sorry, especially since some view a line between professional and personal is drawn here. In today’s world, a Facebook invite form someone you barely know can be viewed as intrusive – and might leave a sour taste with the other person. This can change down the road, once you’ve gotten to know them better, of course.

Send a note: Know how handwritten notes can be more effective after a job interview? Well, it’s the same case here. It’s a nice touch, and clearly shows the other person is valued. You can do this a few days after the event. It’s okay to insert a talking point from your conversation at the event (see the notes on the business cards). Again, this isn’t formal. And if you can’t write out a note, an e-mail is fine.

Establish goals: Congrats, you’ve already laid the groundwork. Now it’s time to move the relationship forward. Like executing any sound business strategy, you need to first evaluate your goal. What do you want to get from this person? If it’s a potential prospect, study their business, what he/she really cares about, and how you can help. If it’s to gain business insight or establish a mentor, identify 2-3 traits about that person you admire most.

Now, think about the other person – what goal do you expect they’ll receive from you? Back to the prospect, share why you can truly help them above someone else. If you’re looking for that mentor, set a strategy to show how eager you are to learn – and appreciate advice. These goals are a two-way street, and there must be clear benefit for the other person.

Set up a meeting: Once you’re ready, shoot them an email and ask them out for coffee or a drink after work. It’s here where the relationship truly moves forward. Go back to your goals and your strategy around them. Convert these into talking points – again, focusing on how YOU can help the OTHER person (even if it’s the other one doing most of the help in the long run).

Again, these steps are pretty simple, and the input is heavily outweighed by the ROI you’ll gain. If you do these right, you’ll meet those new business partners, customers, and mentors in no time.

What do you think? Did we miss any “must-dos?” Tweet us @bostonchamber and we’ll share them in a future blog.

If you need more Boston networking advice, here are some tips on what to do before – and during – an event.

And, as always, we’d love to have you out at one of our 100+ annual networking events.

 

 

5 ways to recruit the best talent in Boston

Sure we’re biased, but Boston is one of the best places in the world to live, work, and do business.

5 ways to recruit general imageOne of the biggest reasons? Talent, of course. Brilliant, creative, and superior minds drive hundreds of world-class businesses right in our backyard. And the 250,000+ students among our 100+ colleges and universities converge into our region in preparation for the next latest and greatest ideas.

So how can your organization make the most of the opportunity? Here are five ways to bring the best talent to YOU:

Recruit interns: Nearly 97 percent of businesses nationwide plan to hire interns. And we’re not talking about shy kids fetching coffee or jotting down phone messages. Today’s breed brings fresh skills and perspectives impacting the bottom-line, whether it’s developing digital strategies or finding new marketing techniques to break through to influential millennials. Hosting interns is a great way to build your future talent pipeline, too. Looking to find the best interns in Greater Boston? This should help.

Think culturally. Don’t write your job listings like you did five years ago. Roles, responsibilities, and required experiences aren’t everything. As today’s hiring market becomes more competitive, you need to sell your organization even harder – and identify how you truly stand out from competitors. Highlighting the Ping-Pong table in your lunchroom, the coffee bar in the kitchen, or work-at-home Fridays are great, but you need to go further. Poll current employees on the 2-3 things they love most about your culture, why someone should work there, and how it’s truly unique. Use that content to create a dedicated “Why Work Here” page on your website, and link to/include on all job descriptions. Need an example? Chamber members Wayfair.com and TripAdvisor do this really well.

Embrace social: More and more candidates are finding new opportunities through social media. At the basic level, share your openings via your organization’s Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages. Use relevant keywords – job title, your industry, or location – in these posts so the right candidates can find you. And ask your followers to spread the word.

But also think how you can expand your efforts. Shares openings on LinkedIn groups targeting Boston business professionals. Create YouTube videos showcasing your office, or vignettes of current employees sharing why they love working there. Post visuals illustrating your openings on Instagram and Pinterest. And host a Google+ hangout where candidates can chat with your employee ambassadors. Social is your chance to be creative – and stand out.

Network, network, and network more: Be proactive. Go to where you’ll find much of the region’s talent. This means conventions, industry associations, and even better, Boston networking events. Though take off your recruiter’s shoes. You do NOT go to these events to poach talent – you go to meet interesting people and develop relationships. If it’s a right fit for your organization, these relationships will develop in time.

Be open to informational interviews. Some of the best finds happen outside the traditional interview process, when you don’t necessarily have any openings. The most ambitious talent are very proactive, always thinking their next steps (which might be you), and the organizations they want to bring value to. So the next time one comes across your inbox, don’t reply back “sorry, we have no job openings.” Scan their resume, and if there’s potential, grab a coffee with them or have them come in for a bit. That small chunk of time can eventually turn into a pretty sweet ROI down the road.

What other recruiting strategies are you using to stand out? Tweet us @bostonchamber and we’ll share them!

And if you’re looking for new ways to recruit and develop Boston business talent, we’re here to help.

 

 

Guest Blog: 5 Essential Parts to Any Business Plan

The following is the latest guest blog entry from Greater Boston Chamber members detailing value strategies and insight for the region’s business community.

Whether you’re a start-up, more established company, or a Fortune 500 organization, you always need a business plan. And it’s something you need to continually update.

A well-written and comprehensive plan not only serves as a roadmap to success but also as an effective marketing tool. The reality is few business owners actually have an idea of what one contains. Business plans are like snowflakes: no two are alike.

A business plan’s main objective is to be able answer the question, “Why is your company uniquely suited to succeed in its industry?” Five areas need to be addressed:

1. Company Analysis

Determine what your product is now, and what it will be in the future. In which direction will you take your company? Include a presentation on what differentiates your product from other similar services. This question is a critical component to developing a business plan that properly addresses why your company is uniquely suited to succeed in its industry. Lastly, you need an overview of the management team and its organization. There should also be information on potential hires, and what your company is looking for in terms of personnel.

2. Market Analysis

Analyze your industry, competitors, and consumers. Examine the size of your market, how it’s changing, and whether it’s volatile or dependent on another market. For example, is your product complementary to another product (i.e. hot dogs and hot dog buns, two different but complementary markets), or is it a substitute to something else (i.e chicken and beef)? An analysis of competitors allows you to learn what they are doing with their products. Note what’s working for them, where they need to improve, and perhaps even, what they should be doing but are not. The consumer analysis is fairly evident, but you want to examine what consumers want, how much they want, and what price are they willing to pay for it. This kind of information will be critical in developing financial projections.

3. Marketing Plan

In a way, it a continuation of your Market Analysis – answering the question of, “How will you make your business grow?” It will include how you will advertise your product, and what kind of sponsorship deals you want to make. If your product is in the energy industry, and its niche is that it is a clean and cheap source of energy, the marketing plan could utilize the angle that the product is environmentally friendly, and would have the social impact of providing cheap energy to those in need.

4. Financial Projections

Financial projections are absolutely necessary if you want your business to attract investors or partnerships. Take the time to detail your business’s budget. Outline how you are spending your money, how much money you have, etc. This helps you cut unnecessary costs. If you notice that spending on certain things such as a particular type of advertising have greater yields on returns, allocate more resources there, which in turn could lead to a greater financial projection. This, of course, would be more attractive to investors and will make your company grow.

5. Operations Plan

This section is rather straightforward. Detail milestones you want your company to reach by set times. What is your goal by the end of the fiscal year? What about after five years? How large do you think your company will be, how many employees?

The last part of the business plan is an appendix. Include as much data as possible to provide evidence of your analyses, or of your financial projections. Keeping track of your data will also help you make sure your business plan is conservative in its numbers, and that it is rooted in fact.

Yonathan Dawit is a Digital Media Associate with JustiServ, a Boston legal technology startup, specializing in improving access to justice in Massachusetts. For more information – including free legal advice – email info@justiserv.com.

 

Important MBTA reforms included in final state budget

The final FY16 Budget included two MBTA reforms that have been supported by the Chamber: creation of an MBTA fiscal control board and increased contracting flexibility for the next three years. The Chamber commends the Governor and Legislature for coming to agreement and enacting these provisions in a timely manner.

Over the past several months, the Chamber has been working with a broad coalition of 25 business associations representing large and small employers from a wide range of industries to advance legislation that would enact recommendations made by the Special Panel to Review the MBTA and begin the task of fixing the state’s public transit system.

On July 20, the fiscal control board held its first meeting to establish the role of the board, set board bylaws, and determine its meeting schedule. The Chamber will remain actively engaged in this issue as the control board reviews the T’s operations and works with senior T managers to improve them.

These are great steps for the long-term, but now the focus should shift to the more immediate question of what needs to be done to get the T ready for this winter. Selecting a new General Manager is one very important step. The T needs a strong leader, someone who can execute preparations for winter and act as a change agent for a culture that is in desperate need of change. Now that the legislative piece is done, it’s important to focus on these practical issues. The T needs to reassure people that they are doing everything necessary to avoid a repeat of last winter’s catastrophe. The Chamber is committed to continue to work with key decision makers to drive this issue forward.

If you have any questions, please contact Erin Trabucco,(etrabucco@bostonchamber.com), Senior Policy Advisor.