Tammy M
Attending your first network meeting can be intimidating and possibly embarrassing if you are not prepared. This post is to help you understand the process of a network meeting.

Most network meeting have a common agenda and in this post I have outlined an agenda flow.

When you arrive ensure to have business cards with you and set your cell phone to tazer, vibrate, or off to avoid possible embarrassment and as a courtesy. When you enter the meeting room I usually scan the room to see who I do or do not know and then locate where you plan to sit. If you are expecting an important phone call be sure to sit near an exit so if your phone should vibrate you can step out and handle your call without disturbing everyone else. If time allows visit around the room and greet other people.

To start the meeting someone will make an annoucement that the meeting is ready to begin and you need to politely conclude with whoever you are speaking and take your seat.

There is usually a master of ceremonies (mc) whose job it is to move the meeting along and explain about network group such as its purpose and how it may have started. This is where you want to pay attention to learn about membership requirements since it will vary from group to group.

Most network meetings have a dedicated time of usually 30 seconds for every attendee to deliver their commercial. Each person in the room will take a turn and deliver a commercial about their products and/or services. The MC will state how much time each person will have which can range anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. As a business owner you need to make sure you have a prepared 30 second commercial.

Next, most meetings will have a spotlight speaker. This spotlight speaker can be another business owners in the networking group that have attained membership status or it may be a special outside speaker that has been asked to come to the meeting and share their knowledge with the group. This spotlight can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes depending on how the meeting has been organized.

Then comes the thank you segment. This is a time where every attendee has a chance to acknowledge the efforts of other business owners for things such as referrals, business completed, or one on one meetings. This part may or may not be combined with any announcements that the attendees would like to share with the group. If announcements are not combined and you want to make an announcement it is best to ask permission prior since announcments can become lengthy.

And finally, the meeting is adjourned.

The description provided is only a common agenda and can vary from group to group. Some groups do not do any thank you segment. I know one group that has no commercial or thank you and the group I am thinking about is more focused on education which is why.

The time frame for a networking meeting may range anywhere from 1 hour to as much as 2 hours. I have never seen a meeting that lasted less than 1 hour unless it was a small group and they completed the agenda in less than 1 hour.
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