Derek Dickow is a political operative and consultant by day and a self-proclaimed problem solver by evening. His firm, Steward Media in West Bloomfield Township, is hosting a speed networking event for commercial real estate developers and service providers, where he’ll explain how to form meaningful connections and turn meetings into clients. DBusiness Daily News spoke with Dickow about his personal networking strategies and how to mingle more effectively. The speed networking will be held on Wednesday, June 21 (5:30-8 p.m.) at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.
- DDN: What can people expect at the speed networking event?
DD: People attending our event can expect to meet high-level commercial real estate developers and service providers in a fun, unique, and exciting format that’s different than any traditional networking event. Typically when people go to networking events, you see a familiar face, you may catch up with that person, and then spend half your time not meeting new contacts or potential clients. At our event, it’s targeted, so it’s very similar to speed dating, where you sit across from someone and you both have an opportunity to talk about your companies, and projects, and what you’re working on. Then you see if there’s a fit. If there’s a fit, you follow up with that person later, and after then you move on to the next person and the next introduction. So we guarantee people will have at least 10-12 new connections in commercial real estate whether they’re service providers or developers.
- DDN: Why do you think networking is important professionally?
DD: Networking is an important component of business because everywhere you go, you have an opportunity to prospect and meet new people, no matter where the event is or what kind of event it is. So at our events, we try to facilitate that introduction to make it warm, and in an environment that’s friendly so people are more comfortable making that connection for the first time. You can be the greatest attorney or the greatest CPA, and we certainly have a lot of talent in this region, but if you’re not out networking and meeting new people, you’re not going to be able to grow your business and your clientele. So networking is a vital component of success in business. People can go with traditional marketing, but I just don’t see that as a sound investment. For me, the best bang for my buck is to be out there, meeting people and being in the right rooms.
- DDN: What’s a major networking mistake people are probably making?
DD: I would say a major mistake that I see often is that people are trying to sell someone in the first 30 seconds of meeting them. What people need to understand is that sometimes you only get 30 seconds, you might get a minute, and in that window of time, absolutely no one is buying anything from you. The only thing that they will buy is do they trust you and likability. So if you can convey to people in a very quick moment that you have high likability and that you’re trustworthy, people are more susceptible to work with you and to provide opportunities. I think people who do a very good job of networking, instead of trying to pitch themselves, they look at people and try to identify problems that they might have in business and try to solve them. One example is when people say they’re looking for talent and there just aren’t enough good people to hire. So what I do is I get resumes and try to find people who could be a good fit for them. So that’s something I’m going to talk about during my presentation, is this value proposition, where you’re providing value for someone before you ever ask for a favor. Once you build value with people in the first minute you meet them, you’ll find that business is a lot easier and networking will be more fun, because you don’t look at people as a prospect, you look at them like you can solve problems for them.
- DDN: Is this event going to be strictly commercial real estate attendees?
DD: No, when we started this event five years ago, it was specifically commercial real estate developers and service providers, so we had developers, title companies, attorneys, transportation services, and now it’s grown. So now we’re finding that professionals from outside of commercial real estate that want to do business with people that are either in commercial real estate or are some of the service providers. So we’ve found that by putting this event together, it’s an atmosphere where people want to get in, they want to meet people that are in my network, and they want to get connected. People ask me all the time, “Can you introduce me to so and so?” and I tell them the best way to do that is at our events.
- DDN: What are some of your professional experiences with networking?
DD: My day job is in political fundraising, so I attend a lot of events. Being a fundraiser, you have to network and meet the right people who are open to supporting certain candidates. My client base is anything from local city council candidates all the way up to presidential candidates, so I’m always finding opportunities for candidates or current elected officials to meet those who are creating businesses and really driving the economy. The best way that I’ve been able to do that is to navigate the art of networking, which is a strategy that I’ve created, but it’s also a lifestyle. I live it, I breathe it, I like to help people, and these events have become a fantastic way for people to meet others in my network outside of a typical chamber networking event, or somewhere where you just show up and everybody has drinks. We have that, and the first half of our event is a traditional networking event, and then we sit down and get to the business of meeting people. I’ve had a wonderful opportunity in my career to be in some really successful rooms, and I look to play matchmaker and connect those people.
Tickets for the event can be purchased here.