*Episode previously recorded and released as part of Kristina Stubblefield's Genius Marketing Solutions podcast.
In this episode, Kristina talks to Josh Suiter of The St. Matthews Chamber of Commerce in Louisville, Kentucky about the importance of consistently networking your business and offers several useful tips on how to go about it.
Tune in to this episode to hear networking savant, Josh Suiter with the St. Matthews Chamber of Commerce in Louisville, KY, discuss networking and why you have to stay consistent with it and continue showing up to networking events... Connections lead to conversations and conversations lead to opportunities!
Whether networking virtually or in person, you don’t want to miss the great tips offered up in this episode. Kristina sat down with a Chamber of Commerce networking expert to talk about how he kept his Chamber members involved during the pandemic by thinking outside of the box.
Listen in to hear how building a network of a core group of people you can call upon will prove to be invaluable for your business and afford you access to opportunities you might not be able to find on your own.
BY THE TIME YOU FINISH LISTENING, YOU’LL DISCOVER that consistent networking will foster relationships and the exchanging of business resources, provide support from those in your industry and get referrals for your business.
Visit our website to send us a message or record a voicemail theringtheblingandallthethings.com and share with us your marketing pain points or any topics you would like to be considered for an upcoming episode.
Connect with the host:
Kristina Stubblefield - www.kristinastubblefield.com
Kristina Stubblefield 0:00
You don't want to miss this episode. I sat down with Josh Suiter from the St. Matthews Chamber of Commerce in Louisville, Kentucky, to talk about networking, and how consistent networking fosters connections, and connections lead to conversations and conversations lead to opportunities and opportunities lead to well, you get the picture. Welcome to genius Marketing Solutions podcast. Hi, my name is Kristina Stubblefield. For over 15 years, I've served as a marketing strategist, and coach. Also, I was once a wedding vendor. In my podcast episodes, I'm providing bite sized, digestible marketing solutions and information that can be immediately implemented and make an impact on your business. Now, let's dive into this episode. I feel like there's no better time than now to talk about today's topic. If I'm going to talk about networking, there was one person that came to my mind. And that is my guest today. Josh, thank you so much for joining me, I really appreciate it. When I thought about networking, you came to the top of my mind. So I'm gonna let Josh introduce himself. I'm gonna tell you let me say his whole name. I just call him Josh, Josh Souter. And he's with the Chamber of St. Matthews. Josh, tell him all about you. Sure.
Josh Suiter 1:28
So my name is Josh Souter. I am the director of membership and business relations for the Chamber of St. Matthews, we're a membership organization in Louisville, Kentucky, made up of about 1300 members. But I started my career working for the government. And in working for the government, I started going to networking events. And that's what led me to chamber work. Never thought I would be here never thought this would be what I'd be doing every day. But networking just seemed to be the fun, natural way to meet people. And I wanted to make a career out of it. So I've done that and been in the chamber world now for almost eight years.
Kristina Stubblefield 2:08
And that's really your lawyer, I originally met you at another local chamber when you worked there. And to see what you've done with the St. Matthews chamber. It's awesome. And I'm going to give you some kudos real quick before we dive into our topic, but I know we have a lot to cover with it. What you've done for people pre pandemic, the platform that you've provided with the chamber is second to none, in my opinion. But what you stepped up and did through the pandemic really set you apart. When others I feel like all around not just in our local area. We're scrambling or not maybe doing much of anything, just kind of waiting to see what happened. You did not sit back, you went full fledge, and how can we continue to work with our members and keep them connected. And kudos to you for that, because I really feel like and I've talked to some of the other members of St. Matthews chamber, I know how big of an impact it was on their business. So to you and your team Bravo.
Josh Suiter 3:11
Thank you, I appreciate that. We we did not want to leave people hanging when they needed us the most. And so it was important for us to be there and support them and encourage them and even give them an opportunity to cuss or scream when they needed to.
Kristina Stubblefield 3:26
willingness, sometimes you bring up a very valid point, it was just being there to listen. You know, I had customers that I've worked with, they just needed an ear. And someone to know, they needed someone to be there to just listen to what they had to say and maybe offer some type of help. And you made a really good point. So networking, I know there was a lot of different directions we can go with this. And you know, you've done a really good job with networking. I know I'm gonna say the inevitable z word. One of your members was recently interviewed for a podcast, Christie, and she didn't really want to talk much about the P word. So today we're introducing the Z word that everyone's been using zoom. And I know people, that's not the same as being in person. But in all honesty, gosh, technology has been there for us through this pandemic.
Josh Suiter 4:26
Yeah, I mean, quite honestly, zoom was one of the ways we kept people engaged throughout the pandemic. And zoom networking is really no different than everyday networking. The only differences I'm not sitting across from you at a table are standing across from you. at a networking event. We just have a computer in between us, but the connections don't stop. Throughout the entire pandemic. I continued to meet with members. Many of them were wedding professionals who were my venues closed. bartenders who said our bars are Close, we can't even serve drinks at a wedding right now, what are we going to do? How are we going to pay your bills. And my response back was when this is over, you need to have a plan. And part of that plan needs to be who we're going to be your clients, when you get the green light, and you get to go back to work. And how are you going to do that? Well, of course, they all look to me a lot more, I don't know. And my first response was, you're going to show up to networking events, and you're going to plug in, many of them are in our wedding group. And to watch them encourage each other over the last year has been incredible. I have watched venues who quite honestly, they weren't allowed to have their doors open. Or if they could, they could have 25 people in a space that holds 300 What's the point? But the value for them and networking was they got to talk to other venues to hear this is what we're doing. Here's how we're doing this. So they got new ideas. And then they heard from experts, and I'm gonna call them experts, even though some of them would not like to hear me say they are. But you know, one of the folks you and I both know, is a florist here in town, Mike Gatti and Mike never stopped. Even when networking became a chore, because he was still trying to get orders out, he was still trying to take care of brands. He kept showing up to events he kept plugging in and he kept diving in. And zoom really doesn't change that. It just changes the way you do it. I'm still doing one to ones today via zoom, not meeting people in coffee shops, but I'm still drinking coffee while we have a conversation. So to me, networking is nothing more than that. Anyways, it's a conversation.
Kristina Stubblefield 6:44
But now you put a little bit of a twist on some of your zooms. Let's be honest. You get costumes, you in you make it fun. It's not all I got to get on another zoom. I've heard from the members, and it just brought a different level of energy. And that's something that a lot of others don't, they're stuck in that just professional have to watch what you say, How are you dressed? You know, those kind of things? And it's really out of the box things that has made you all stand out as a chamber? Yeah,
Josh Suiter 7:19
I mean, you can't operate the same way you always have no chamber in this country should be doing that no business should be doing that. Right. Now's the time to shake it up. So when we all went home in March, we added an event on Friday mornings that was just to share highs for the week. And every week had a theme. So you know, there was one week it was TV shows, and the three staff members for the chamber and our board president we all dressed as Golden Girls. Yes, I dressed as a woman. And I was Sophia. And I had the group rolling. But here's the beauty of it. The barriers were down. Nobody was worried about being embarrassed at that point. Nobody's worried about saying something they shouldn't. They're laughing. But what they don't realize they're doing is they're connecting at the same time. And a lot of those connections have led to close a business have led to opportunities for people to have conversations beyond How are your kids? What's new in your world at the game? Who do you want to talk to? Or hey, my neighbor needs the service. My favorite story from the the coffee chat event that we do on Friday mornings, it's there's a venue here in the local area. But you know, quite honestly, she was feeling defeated at the time. And I remember one of the members telling her, I've got four friends that are getting married, and they all had to move their weddings to a different place because the venue isn't large enough, yours is large enough to host their event, let me send them your way, she was able to secure a couple of weddings, just through a simple conversation while doing it in costume. So that's how we roll.
Kristina Stubblefield 9:02
Well, a couple of things to that though, it allowed them to show up for their business. Like you said, without barriers, it just allowed them to really show up and you get to know someone. The other thing too is you never know where that opportunity. So many people look at it as face value is what I kind of call it, just that one person in front of you. But how many other business associates consumers is in that person's network. It's not just level one. And people don't realize that if they've never done anything with networking, actually some that even do with networking, they just think of it that one person in front of them. And I think that's something that I'd like to share for people is you might not do business with that one person you're talking to. That may be connected to 200 others and that's a big opportunity.
Josh Suiter 9:53
And that's right, because in one sitting at any event, you're going to run into some Someone who may be in the course of the conversation may say, hey, my niece is getting married and she needs a florist. Do you know anybody? You know, somebody asked me that question. I have three or four at the top of mind at any given point. Now there's one in town that I refer more than others, because we've known each other longer. But I've still got plenty of options at my fingertips. And I'm amazed at how many people will look at me and go, how do you know so many people? And my responses, I got out, I started networking, I started meeting people. And then through meeting people, I've created a network of people that I don't have a problem referring for any service. And it doesn't even have to be wedding related. I mean, I have plumbers at the ready. I have electricians at the ready. I have a realtor at the ready. I've school systems, or private schools, one of my favorite private schools in Louisville to refer is because of the principal just make school fun for the kids. And the joy she has on her face when they come through the door. So when someone moves to our area and says, Hey, where should I send my kid to school. They're one of the first people I think of, obviously, I push private or public first because I'm a public school kid. But if somebody is looking private, I've got them covered. And it's because of my network.
Kristina Stubblefield 11:21
Josh, there's people out there that are scared, or maybe scared is not the right word. They don't have confidence in themselves. Even people that have been doing this wedding professionals or other businesses for 2030 years, they're not confident standing one to one with let's label it as a business person. What would you say to them that haven't embraced networking, whether virtually or in person.
Josh Suiter 11:52
So you are bound to know somebody else, who they don't have a problem starting a conversation within a group of people take that person with you. So if you're on zoom, invite them to your house, and sit around the table and network together. If you're at an event, hang out with them. My very first networking event, I was what you call a wallflower, I hid so far in the corner, I was terrified, I didn't know what I was doing. And it took one person who at that time worked for the chamber that I used to work for, who grabbed my hand and said Come with me, I'm going to introduce you to a few people. And she did. And to this day, that person is still a part of my network, they are still someone I call on on a regular basis when I need a connection. But what Kate did for me was she helped me realize that it's not as scary if you go into it with somebody you feel comfortable with. One of our good friends like a
Kristina Stubblefield 12:52
Josh Suiter 12:53
what that's exactly what it is take a buddy with you and your your wedding professionals, right. So you you're bound to have somebody that you do events with, that you work with on a regular basis, grab them and go, hey, let's go do this together. Because they need the business and so to you, and they're bound to be a little bit more outgoing and willing to dive into the conversation. And then they'll bring you into the fold. And that'll take away those nerves. Because once you get going, network is fun, not to mention most events you go to, there's usually some kind of a beverage, and there's always some good food to be had. And so there's two more reasons to go right there.
Kristina Stubblefield 13:33
Well, and I think as we're recording this, we see some kind of light at the end of the tunnel into our new norm. I think that's how people are labeling it. And there's no better time. If you're going to be a little bit more comfortable, maybe virtually get involved in some type of networking now that are still meeting virtually, maybe you're a little bit more comfortable there. So that way when you do start to go or in person, things start up again. You're not you're not just putting it off, and then boom, you're in front of people.
Josh Suiter 14:12
Yeah, I think you're right. I wish the technology had been as far advanced as it is. Now when I first started networking, that first event wouldn't have been so scary for me. Because I would have met a group of a smaller group of people, we would have had conversation but probably would have been at home in some pajama pants and a polo because as long as she looked good from here, nobody knows right? But part of that fear was I had to put dress clothes on. And I had to look good. And I had to talk to people I didn't know I had a problem today. I mean, if you run into me out on the street, we're probably going to become buddies and I'm going to invite you to go have a beer because I want to network and I want to get to know people.
Kristina Stubblefield 14:56
You just made a really strong point there. It's about getting to know people don't put more pressure on networking than the needs to be you're just meeting other people and maybe down the road you'll do business together or they'll know somebody that you can help you don't have to label it any other way so great that's great wording
Josh Suiter 15:17
i mean really that's all networking is it's building a relationship with someone and whether that's a long term relationship or that is a very short term hey we exchanged business cards and i'm gonna keep that card in case i find somebody that might need it later and sometimes those turn into lasting friendships one of my favorite chamber members and i know i'm not supposed to have favorites but this is the way it goes is someone i met at a networking event probably 15 years ago and we have maintained our contact maintained our relationships and now she's one of my number one referral sources for people who want to join the chamber
Kristina Stubblefield 15:58
impressions that is such a strong strong thing when you can leave a person with an impression it doesn't have to be completely professional boxed up with a bow on it it's just leaving them with an impression for them to remember you and here years later that still stays at the top of your mind and there we go top of mind there's no better way to stay at the top of people's mind than through networking and one of the other things too josh is getting actually involved with your chamber of course there's other networking opportunities that are available on zoom i even know that there's facebook groups that have even come about more so because of COVID for people to stay connected especially small businesses but your chamber of commerce's they're available pretty much all over first of all i want you to tell people who can join the st matthews chamber because i want to plug yours but i know if someone or are in other states that might necessarily be the best fit for their business
Josh Suiter 17:15
sure so the st matthews chamber is located in louisville kentucky but our membership spans the entire state of kentucky as well as southern indiana even into northern mall parts of ohio tennessee we've got a couple of members in missouri a lot of that is because of the health insurance program that we offer but the bulk of our membership is in the louisville metro area chambers of commerce whether you join ours or whether you join the one closest to where you live they're meant to be an avenue for you to make connections for you to meet people for you to break down that fear a little bit of going to an event with a roomful of strangers because if a chamber is done correctly and majority of the more you're gonna meet somebody the minute you come in the door who's gonna say hey christina i'm glad you're here who in this room would you like to meet today and how can i help you meet them that's my favorite thing to do when i work an event for us is i like to ask the person who's coming in the door who's your ideal client once i have that answer then i can look around our room and determine who best to walk them up to and sometimes they say i'll be honest i don't know and then i go looking for the most outgoing member i can because i know they're gonna connect them to another person later but really chambers are there to support small local businesses we get national clients we get franchises which are locally owned but really we want to help mom and pop businesses keep their doors open and i know many of the people listening to here so that's who they are they are locally owned and operated businesses who just need to meet people and it may not even be for business it may be because later on down the road they need a florist to refer they need a photographer they can refer or maybe they need a venue to help a client with later
Kristina Stubblefield 19:17
well and i think when i first started this i think people have in their mind one thing about networking and they don't see the whole full circle picture of what's the follow up what how do you utilize those connections do you connect with the members on social media maybe linkedin are you part of other micro groups inside the chamber i know you have quite a few of them how are you utilizing it to your benefit and okay that may sound a little selfish but it's the truth how can you use it to benefit your business not just go meet some people, they, especially wedding professionals, the follow up is critical with engaged couples, but also with other professionals, that maybe four or five of you all as vendors can work together that follow up is a critical piece. Yeah. And quite honestly, it's
Josh Suiter 20:19
an easy piece, right? Because it's very easy to say, Hey, we met an event the other night. And I'd like to get to know you and your company a little bit more, can we go grab coffee? Or can we go grab lunch, and then you spend more time deep diving into what each other does, right. And what happens through that is you start to develop a network. And that's really what networking is doing. you're developing a core group of people that you can call upon. You mentioned one of our micro groups. And I think I mentioned it earlier, the wedding group, they're a great example of how that works. Because we started that group with eight wedding professionals. And all of those folks wanted one thing, they wanted a place where they could get referral clients from right. And it may not necessarily be a bride and groom, it may be they're looking for somebody within that core group that they could refer to a bride and groom. And then the best part is, they develop their own ideas, their own goals for the chamber, which caused us to launch a wedding show, and a style shoot, and things that weren't even on my radar when we started the group. But because all of these folks have come together, and they network together, they refer each other they trust each other enough to pull these things off. And you know, one of the wedding planners, you and I both know, she wasn't a member of our chamber when she attended her first wedding show with us. But one thing I watched from across the room was how well she networked and communicated with people in the room. And I was so impressed with her that I told the staff that day when, when the wedding seat comes up, a wedding planner, seat comes open, we're snagging her. And we did. And I later found out she booked Four Weddings through that event, or two of them paid her that day. And so networking really is just about developing trust enough that people go, I want to do business with you, and to developing those relationships. But those relationships don't happen immediately. It takes time. That's probably the hardest part to networking. For some people, it's the instant gratification. That doesn't always happen in networking, it takes time to develop those relationships.
Kristina Stubblefield 22:42
And there's a lot to be said, when a referral comes from another professional. In what we're talking about wedding professional, when you go to a wedding planner, or a florist. And the question is bound to come up. You know what other vendors? Are you meeting to help you with your special day? Have you been out? Have you worked? Do you have that network? Do you have that little circle, but also when they say I've worked with this person, and they're a great caterer for example. Or not only can this person be a caterer but they can also do your cake that holds quite a bit of value that it comes from another professional?
Josh Suiter 23:26
Absolutely. When we launched the wedding group, ironically, I met the mobile bartending company that is a member of the group through Facebook. Now that sounds crazy. But their ad popped up and I went through, I need to get to know them. Send them a note invited them to the wedding group. Well, the initial reaction from the folks in the group was, well, we already know a bartending company here in town. Why do we need to know another one? Well, let's be honest. There's always going to be companies that are going to be booked on dates that brides and grooms need them right? Well, this one mobile bartending company, now has probably tripled their business over the last few years because they were not afraid to show up at the bar on a Thursday night and network with chamber folks. One of the local banks hired them to run their after hours for the last few years prior to the pandemic. And so they've been able to develop relationships, not just in the wedding industry, but within the corporate world as well. And your local chambers can help you do that. But we're not the only organizations out there doing events like these. So I would encourage you to look for other membership organizations, they're going to help you make connections as well. And it may even be something as simple as another wedding group in town that offers similar programming to what we do. But networking to me is not just about meeting your next client. Sometimes it's about meeting that next a vendor that might be able to help your client on down the road
Kristina Stubblefield 25:04
so a couple things from what you've just said i'm familiar with the group that you're referring to it's called naked by sunday is the name of the business i don't mind to throw it out there and i'm going to tell you i don't personally know them i've not been introduced to them i look forward to meeting up but here's the crazy part of that that's actually really not crazy but i have had multiple people that i know in my network so to speak say oh my goodness if you know somebody that needs a bar service i think it even comes up when i talk about with the pandemic a lot of venues the dates are booked and people are going to their family farms or things like that and so this topic comes up and if you know people that need mobile bartending this is the company or oh i was at an event and this company was there and they did such a great job they were so fun again i don't know i don't know them but other people when other people are shouting from the rooftops about how great your business is there's no better referral there's there's no better marketing then it coming out in a great way from other people
Josh Suiter 26:19
well and they again came to me via social media that's how i met them and literally a shot in the dark facebook messenger note to say hey i'd love to learn more about your business i have an opportunity for you all to do some networking would you be interested in grabbing coffee and i'll never forget the first time i sat down with these two and the first words out of their mouth was networks it's not really something we've ever done before can you walk us through what that looks like and once they got the hang of it michelle and courtney know how to do this so well that i just walk away and let them do their thing because they're pros and networking and it came so naturally to them to just strike up a conversation with people and that's really what you're doing in networking the minute you start it's just talking
Kristina Stubblefield 27:10
i would say that might be one of your favorite answers for someone to give is i've never really done networking oh you're just like oh well let me show you how it's done let me walk
Josh Suiter 27:21
you through this thing
Kristina Stubblefield 27:26
and that's what i was hoping that this whole conversation we would have was to open people's eyes and at least let them start thinking about it's not just going and checking a person's hand you know especially with a pandemic going on but there's so much more opportunity and at the end of the day it's about generating more sales for your business that may that's the honest to goodness thing that you're that it's going to circle back around more traffic to your website more leads to your business and what does that equal more sales you just have to get out there and do it and i like that you also pointed out it doesn't necessarily have to be with a chamber but there's a lot of things to consider with the chamber and i'm going to touch on this just a little bit i know it's outside of networking but you mentioned about an insurance plan there are other benefits other than networking when you have a chamber involved and i'll let you speak on this but one of the other things i would mention there may be multiple chambers in your area i would encourage you to interview them meet with however many there are two three whatever that is and see what's going to be the best fit for your business because that's not always going to be the same for everyone
Josh Suiter 28:46
yeah you're right no chamber is built the same i came from one that is i'm gonna say very straight laced great organization wonderful staff but you're not going to catch them in a costume on a friday morning on a networking event does that say that they do things better or worse than we do no it just means they approach the situation a little differently and when you look at the benefits of chambers you know our chamber has a got a lot of great member discount programs from health insurance to office supplies through home depot or home depot office depot to payroll processing credit card processing think about those things you don't want to do as a business owner and i know if i were one one of them would be payroll that'd be the first one i'd want to hand off to somebody else chambers can give you introductions to discount programs to do that work for you and by doing that it frees you up to go do more networking or to market your business or spend more time in the business as i hear a coach say all the time around here you know it's not so much that you're in the business but it's how you're working the business and living in the business because you've got to have a plan. And if you don't have time to work on that plan, then it's time to offload some of that work so that you can, and those member discount programs can help you do a lot of that, quite honestly, even the I joke all the time. But what I love about the Office Depot program is that I can place the order and have it shipped to the office and never walk foot in a store. And it took me all of about 10 minutes to place the order. And by the next day, it's here. When I worked from home for March and till what July, all of my office supplies were delivered to my front door and never left my house, it was amazing. And think about how much time it saved me 20 minutes the store 20 minutes home probably 30 minutes in the store. And if I had gone to the store, I probably would have spent $50 more than what I really needed to spend anyway, so this keeps me accountable. But your chamber can connect you with a lot of great discounts like that.
Kristina Stubblefield 30:57
Yeah, that's a really good. And I know I don't want to keep you very long. But I'd like to close out with a couple of questions and maybe a little bit of walkthrough tips, you're going to either let's go first virtual, you're going to network, virtually, with other business owners, whether that be through a Facebook group zoom with the chamber, however, that is share with them three tips that immediately come to your mind.
Josh Suiter 31:30
three tips when it comes to zoom, I guess is where I'll start. So the first one would be have pen and paper next to you so that you can take note of who was in the room, and maybe who they're looking for, because what's going to help you is to be able to help them at the same time. The second tip I would give is come prepared with a 32nd commercial, you should be able to do this pretty quickly in your own business. But if you're not accustomed to it, go ahead and start practicing now. And then the third one I would say is find a way to make yourself memorable. Part of what makes our Friday morning events so much fun is that you're going to remember me as the person who rolled into a meeting dress to Sofia from the Golden Girls. But you're also going to remember,
Kristina Stubblefield 32:20
I have to have a picture of that to share in this video. Because not only can they listen to this, they're going to have the video for YouTube. So we hope you'll share a picture with that because I think our listeners want to see this. Oh,
Josh Suiter 32:32
I know. We covered Don't worry, I got you covered. But you know, they'll also remember misty enright with misty and right photography, who dressed as Jim, on a coffee chat. And so the pink hair and you know, just the persona, right? One of our regular contacts between you and I is known as Wonder Woman in the community. And Wonder Woman has made multiple appearances in networking events, dressed as Wonder Woman, even in a virtual standpoint.
Kristina Stubblefield 33:05
I think she wears that cost that costume daily, really? Sometimes she just takes it off. So we don't think she's weird.
Josh Suiter 33:11
That's true. But I don't think she's weird. I think she's fascinating.
Kristina Stubblefield 33:14
I don't think she's weird. I don't think she's weird at all. That's memorable. That is so good. I'm going to add one thing to this. Because some of the online networking so to speak, I've done they will say to share your contact information in the chat. Have a Word doc, a notepad, on your computer or phone saved with your name, your company name? How do you want someone to contact you, maybe it's your website or phone number, where all you have to do is copy and paste that you don't have to sit there typing, because you're going to miss out on other people talking. And the whole point of being there is to show up, pay attention and be involved.
Josh Suiter 33:58
Yeah, and the other piece of that is when that conversation is over, if you're on zoom, there's a little button towards the bottom about save the chat. Save that chat, because it'll help you collect those contacts.
Kristina Stubblefield 34:11
And I know there's even some that offer a recorded version of it in case you want to go back or they'll share who all was on it. If they don't say you know, share your contact information in the chat. Okay, so we talked about virtual Those were all super those were awesome. You've done this for so long. Those were awesome tips.
Josh Suiter 34:29
Let's support him.
Kristina Stubblefield 34:31
It's part of it. Let's talk about in person and I know you're gonna have way
Josh Suiter 34:36
more than I have a lot more than three but I'll go with my three. I usually start here
Kristina Stubblefield 34:40
because I think people like you said number one, they pull up and then oh my goodness. I'm gonna I got to get out of my car, you know, and then they make it in the building or wherever the events is. Okay, I'm getting ready to walk in this room. I hope that they have business cards in hand. I hope that's not one of your things to steal from you from your top three but you've walked into this room it can be overwhelming what's three things at the top of your list that people should really try to do because i can't wait and i know a lot of people can't for in person events of all kinds to be back available safely for us to connect in person
Josh Suiter 35:23
i'm right there with you first and foremost i miss people so my first tip is every one of these events has a coordinator of some sort whether it be a staff member a volunteer maybe a group of volunteers in our organization we call them ambassadors or ambassadors or work the room right seek out one of those folks because there if if they've not sought you out you need to seek them out because they will help you find someone in the room that you can connect to the second one i always say is go to the food because if you go stand near the food or the bar you're bound to make them buddy real fast because everybody congregates at the food or the bar and if they don't then you probably don't want to talk to them anyways because who doesn't go to an event to try the food or have a drink right and then the third one approach a small group of people people congregate right they go to people they know and so i always tell people just walk up to a group and stand there they'll eventually work you into the conversation and if they don't shame on them because that's a missed opportunity but 99.9% of the time if you walk up to a group of four or five people they're going to bring you into the fold that takes that fear factor away because you've now had a chance to connect with three or four people in the room one of which may turn out to be not only a good contact but someone that you're going to have coffee with the next day or maybe lunch with the following week
Kristina Stubblefield 36:59
we could go on and on i bet you have 10 just right at the top of your list but i want to go back in case they didn't catch earlier when we were talking about kind of like a buddy system whether it be zoom you know like you said invite somebody over to your house to be there while you're doing it or if it's in person take someone with you there's someone that you know that will go there's normally it's free food in some type of free drinks maybe alcohol maybe not we're not saying in one way or the other but somebody to be your buddy to where you feel a little bit more comfortable and maybe you need to do that a few times there's nothing wrong with that because they could connect up with others as well you probably know someone else in business that it could be a benefit for them maybe they're scared to go or they're nervous about going i always hate using the word scared maybe they're nervous about going and they love to be invited to go do something and i think people are genuinely ready to connect again i think you're going to find anybody you would ask to go with you are going to be looking to get out and do things and it's a bonus that it could be beneficial for your business
Josh Suiter 38:14
oh yeah well i mean the other nice part is if you got to bribe them say hey if you'll come with me we'll go have dinner afterwards because let's be honest we've all been stuck at home for months right and now that things are starting to get lifted we want to get out more and quite frankly i would much rather go to an event with somebody i enjoy hanging out with than to just meet some stranger at the door to me i know if i call my friend christie and go hey there's this networking event i don't want to go by myself will you go with me hey i've done myself a good deed here because one the two of us love to hang out but to christie is not afraid to talk to anybody and so if you're hanging along with christie i'm probably going to meet the ceo of a fortune 500 company in mobile because christy's gonna walk right up to him and go hi i'm christie how are you and that's what you have to do you're
Kristina Stubblefield 39:07
gonna meet everyone else in the room
Josh Suiter 39:09
right right that's the goal right that's why we go through these things so take somebody with you that's not afraid to start that conversation
Kristina Stubblefield 39:17
and i think we can end this with don't forget about the follow ups whatever that is phone calls text message just an email nice to meet you you know hey let's grab coffee like you've mentioned don't forget that follow up piece to you know always say to kind of massage that relationship because again when we've talked about those people that you meet are probably connected to multiple other people that could be a good fit to do business with you or their networks in you know joshua system we didn't dive into but sometimes when i've taught classes in person or even online classes you know we Talk about the one person can lead you to how many others. So it's just not that first contact that second, that third contact. You've seen it time and time again, where things like that of benefit business. So don't let the word networking be all you think about of just walking in and shaking someone's hand. There's so many other benefits to it. Josh, I'm gonna let you say something to close it out, I really appreciate your time. This has been so much good information for wedding professionals, but also others no matter what industry they're in. And I will say, no matter if you're a home based business, a small mom and pop, or medium or large business, this is all information you can utilize to generate more traffic to grow your leads or your database. And to increase your sales.
Josh Suiter 40:54
Yeah, and I'll finish it up this way, Christina. So first and foremost, thanks for having me. But too, I want anybody who's listening to think about networking, kind of like you would an onion, right, you got to peel that layer back one piece at a time. And you can't walk in expecting to get to the very middle of it. And nailing that business. Just in the initial conversation. These things take time. And it takes effort. You can't just collect 50 business cards at an event the night before. And magically expect all these people to call you. You have to do a call of action. You have to say, hey, Christina, let's meet for coffee or Hey, I think I've got a friend that might be a good client for you. Can I do an introduction between you all? Or hey, do you by any chance know somebody who does X, Y or Z, they would be a really great contact for me. peeling back those layers and diving in is what's going to help that networking show the value, right? And sometimes that value won't happen immediately. It'll come later. One of my greatest examples is one we've talked about before the florist, and I'll leave it right here. But Mike Gatti at Lloyds florist and I have known each other for 10 plus years. But it wasn't until about three or four years ago, that I came to realize just how valuable my connection to Mike really was. Because I didn't realize until he really joined this chamber that I realized just how many people in the city Mike knows. And having Mike in my back pocket as a part of my network means that I have connections that people I couldn't dream of meeting. But we had to peel the onion enough to find that sweet spot in the middle, where we can both help each other and reciprocate. And that's really what you're doing a networking.
Kristina Stubblefield 42:39
And one of the things that I will add since you brought up Mike is a lot of people don't realize he is one of not very many. He has a really high honor with an international group of florist. And I'm not going to attempt to say the name because I won't get it right. But he's also done. He's also done Derby events. He also works with a lot of the local funeral homes. That's not obviously the best topic to talk about. He's specializes in weddings, my whole point to this is Mike's has so much diversity inside his business, because he can refer so many different people. But if you meet him, you have no idea until you really get to know him. All of those different connections. And I've learned so much. I've known Mike for more than 10 years, to be honest with you. And until the last, say five years. I didn't realize like you not only is connected with so many different businesses, but doing the derby, he's done the Rose Parade,
Unknown Speaker 43:56
Kristina Stubblefield 43:57
I mean, he has designed floats in the Rose Parade, and how goodness he's probably going to hear this episode and
Josh Suiter 44:06
we're both in trouble.
Kristina Stubblefield 44:08
Don't let it go to your head. Michael, you're great. We love you. But the whole point is, if you met him face to face, you would not know that 25 different things about him. So I really like how you said about peeling back the layers of the onion. You have to show up in order to do that. If you want to the center, you've got to show up. It's it's not just it's not going to fall in your lap. You've got to work to peel those layers back. Your Business deserves that effort. People need to know about your business. They cannot support your business. They cannot use your services. They can't buy your products if they don't know about you. And networking provides a platform That can be very beneficial in a normal world. But those connections calling on them during anything, a pandemic, maybe you need to hire some really good employees, it doesn't even have to be as drastic as a global pandemic, calling upon those connections that you've met, but that you really know them. It's invaluable to me.
Josh Suiter 45:26
And you just hit the nail on the head right there. It's all about the value, right? So How valuable is that relationship? And how hard Are you willing to work for it to hit that value?
Kristina Stubblefield 45:36
And so many people think it is one to one. When you work with engaged couples, they may know some friends getting married, or their cousin may be getting married next year. But sometimes those could be what I refer to as one and done, you've done that event. And that's it. Is there a chance that you could get a referral out of it? Absolutely. Now, if you use that event, and break it into marketing pieces, can you get referrals and leads from it? Well, absolutely. But if you network with other businesses, that's one too many. I mean, we can't even chart that because the opportunities are endless. And that is why this topic to me was so important. Because as we transition out of what we've been in, for the last year or so, especially wedding professionals are going to be busy. But how are you going to align your business to keep it flow business flowing, but working on the future, because there's only so many dates out there. So you have to be mapping out a plan to build consistency. And I feel like networking can fill that role to help wedding professionals. And as I've already said it other people in, in really any industry. So Josh, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. As I said, kudos to your chamber team. I think they're fantastic. I'm so happy to say that I'm a proud member of the St. Matthews chamber.
Josh Suiter 47:19
It makes me happy.
Kristina Stubblefield 47:21
Watch out, you get me and Christie together. I don't know what could happen. No. In all honesty, thank you so much for your time, I know you're super busy. For anybody that would like to connect with you or check out more about your chamber, I want to make sure you have an opportunity to do that. I'll put links and stuff in the show notes. But will you just tell them briefly about how they can connect with you? Sure.
Josh Suiter 47:45
So you can connect with me via the chambers, phone number 502-899-2523. Or my email is Josh, ss and Sam, at St. Matthews chamber.com. You can also find me on LinkedIn if you really want to go that far into connecting.
Kristina Stubblefield 48:04
Sounds like before we can found you on Facebook too, cuz you gave that wonderful example
Josh Suiter 48:09
you can Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Kristina Stubblefield 48:14
Yep, so in the show notes, we'll have a link to the Chamber's website and do yourself a favor. No matter where your business is located, connect with myself and also connect with Josh. Because you never know when something can come up. Even though you might not be a local wedding professional or local business. We've already said you never know where those can connections can lead. So all right. Thank you all so much for tuning in. Go to the website genius marketing solutions. podcast.com. You can catch past episodes. drop me a line. Did you like what you hear? Are there topics that you'd like to hear more on? I can't wait to hear from you, Josh. I think I'm going to get quite a bit of feedback on this one. Thank you so much again for your time. Till next time. See you all.
Josh Suiter 49:00
Kristina Stubblefield 49:02
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The Chamber of St. Matthews has a diverse membership representing the St. Matthews community, and communities at large, with members ranging from business to civic and non-profit organizations to education to government to home-based businesses and to individuals. With over 1,300 members who believe that Chamber membership is an important component to their business growth and to their communities.