Expert Advice On Business Networking And Tips On Developing Your Networking Skills

Bill Tamminga interview – Founder of Tamminga Marketing and Consulting

Bill Tamminga is the founder of Tamminga Marketing and Consulting. Bill also recently started an online social networking group for service business owners. The community features dozens of free marketing tutorials along with the opportunity to share your expertise and meet other business owners. He received his MBA from the University of Colorado and lives on the outskirts of Denver.

Josh: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?

Bill Tamminga: I define business networking as any activity where there is 1:1 communication going on between two professionals.

I work primarily with service business owners and I know how critical networking is – especially as you get into higher-ticket services like law, consulting, and medicine. Generally, the more you charge for your service and the more competition you have the more you will rely on networking to build your business.

Face to face interaction helps people understand that there is a person behind the company. When it’s done right, it brings our natural defenses down and allows a relationship to begin outside the confines of financial expectations.

Josh: One of the catch 22’s in a typical professional networking environment is that people don’t want to focus only on themselves and what they do, but at the same time, they do want to communicate what they do to the other person. With that being the case, how can someone go about getting across what they do in the most effective manner?

Bill Tamminga: You’ve touched on a basic problem with networking today. Networking is often viewed as a short-term strategy or one-time event when the reality is that it’s a long-term strategy.

If you join a group that meets monthly, but you only show up once or twice a year you’ll probably feel pressure to tell people about what you do. But the year progresses and regular attendees start to build strong bonds with each other, the short-timers are forgotten, regardless of what they do or what they said at the events they went to.

If you are going to really network effectively, it begins with a conversation about the other people in the room. Ask good questions about their family? What do they do outside of work for fun? Where do they live? Where else do they network? Where did they grow up? Those are the questions that help you get to know someone and build relationships and I’ve found that the people who spend time asking those questions get the most out of networking events.

Josh: In your opinion, what would be the ideal design for a business card, from the point of effective networking. That is, what are the absolute most important elements one needs on their business card?

Bill Tamminga: The essentials of a business card are your name, title or occupation, company name, phone number, email address, and website/webpage. Beyond that it’s nice to have a physical address, social network (if you’ve started one), and your social networking pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

The point of the business card is to make it easy for a prospect to learn more about you and continue a conversation at their convenience. One of the reasons why I don’t talk a lot about myself and my business at networking events is because it creates a certain amount of mystery for prospects. I’ll give them my card and expect that they’ll do their own research to find out more about what I do. I make sure to leave plenty of ways for them to do that on my card. Some people can go crazy with their cards. I choose to keep it really simple.

Josh: Based on your experiences, which places and activities have you found best for meeting new people and expanding your business network?

Bill Tamminga: My strongest networking events are the ones at which everyone has a common bond beyond being entrepreneurs or business owners. Events like non-profit fundraisers, Tweetups (for those who are on Twitter), and alumni groups have played an instrumental role for me.

Josh: Can you share a personal “networking” success story with us?

Bill Tamminga: I’m a big believer in building community. Any time I am able to strengthen a bond and get another person in my corner so to speak, I consider it a success. I can usually tell if that’s happened when I am still communicating with that person after the event via phone, email, social media, or what have you. That happens frequently and it sometimes results in incoming business in the short term. Other times it results only in a solid friendship, which is equally important.

-Yours in Networking Success! Josh Hinds
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  • Stein

    I believe in strengthening bonds as well. Even if there is no immediate opportunity to do business, forming that bond will pay off in the long-run. The relationship you form may lead to a referral from a friend of theirs, outside your network.

    Ben S.
    Blog Manager
    Referral Key