Networking is more than just exchanging business cards or adding new contacts on LinkedIn; it’s about creating meaningful connections that with honest intentions for mutual growth and professional opportunities. As someone who has navigated the vibrant business landscape of Orlando for years, I’ve learned insights and strategies that have not only helped me overcome the initial jitters of networking but also build lasting relationships in the professional community including many that I still have to this day. Here’s how you can do the same.
Embrace the Power of Connection
Orlando has a dynamic business environment is that is full of opportunities for professionals that are eager to expand their network. The key is to approach networking with a mindset of building connections rather than mere transactions. Add in the intention of seeking 1 or 2 people in the room that you may be able to provide help or insight to, and you’ll really leave a lasting impression. Remember, the most fruitful relationships are built on genuine interest and mutual respect.
Finding Your Circle
One of the most effective strategies I use is to look for groups of people at networking events and approach them with subtlety. Wait for a moment when someone makes eye contact or gives a nod, it’s usually a signal that it’s okay to join the conversation. This non-intrusive approach respects the existing dynamic and gently opens the door for you to be welcomed. Once you’re part of the circle, engage in the conversation with intent. Ask thoughtful questions and listen actively. Repeat back parts of what someone says to demonstrate that you’re not just hearing but truly listening. This not only helps in making the conversation more engaging but also in remembering the key points about each person, which can be invaluable when following up.
The Art of the Soft Sell
A common misstep in networking is leading with a sales pitch. Don’t be that person! This approach can feel transactional and off-putting. Instead, focus on building a rapport without any immediate expectation of getting something in return. The goal is to foster a connection that could naturally lead to business opportunities in the future.
It’s natural to feel nervous when stepping into a room full of strangers, especially when the pressure to make meaningful connections is high. When you get nervous, remind yourself that most everyone in the same place right now are also just as nervous. Some things you can do to help with that is to prepare an Elevator Pitch. Having a concise and compelling way to introduce yourself can boost your confidence and make a strong first impression. It’s not something you’re going to come up with overnight, and although the process can be tough, trust it because you’ll instantly see when you deliver it right and it’ll feel amazing!
Set Realistic goals for yourself. Instead of aiming to meet everyone in the room, set a goal to have meaningful conversations with maybe five or six people. Try out different types of events like Toastmasters, Speed Networking, Lunch & Learns, and After Hours Socials. The variety will get you exposed to various types of people in settings that you may find you’re most comfortable at and the connection opportunities to be of the better quality.
This is probably the most crucial tip of all that I have to give, which is to make time first thing the next morning and send an intentional direct email. Part of my workflow is to send a warm email and include a memorable part of the event that the person I’m emailing and I shared so that I help to jog their memory and also show that I honestly remember them. Then I add them to my mailing list. Depending on how well the interaction went I will search for them on Linked In and if they’re active enough, I’ll ask to connect with them and use a personal short message with the connection request.
Networking in Orlando’s bustling business environment can be incredibly rewarding if approached with the right strategies. One of my mottos is “You’re only one connection away from your biggest deal”. It’s true though because as I think about some of the colleagues I have; I can name a few that have access to a private jet, own multiple properties, own large organizations, and manage multiple businesses. The key thing is knowing how to leverage those relationships and contacts with a mutual gain. If you’re starting out, focus on genuine connections, listening actively, and following up effectively, you can turn brief encounters into lasting professional relationships. Oh and remember, networking is a skill that improves with practice, so don’t be discouraged by initial setbacks. With each event, you’ll grow more comfortable and get much better at navigating the art of professional networking.
This is a new Federal requirement this year, and it’s a requirement of all businesses to file with US Treasury Department – Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. “The mission of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network is to safeguard the financial system from illicit use, combat money laundering and its related crimes including terrorism, and promote national security through the strategic use of financial authorities and the collection, analysis, and dissemination of financial intelligence.”
We had been hearing about this new rule most of last year and were planning to act early on it once the year turned over to 2024. There’s some documents and artifacts you’ll need when you’re ready to file and I’ve listed them below. There’s also a Step-by-Step Guide that has been made available for you to download and follow along. The main Help page is here for other useful resources around this topic.
Information you’ll need to file:
- Your credentials with Login.gov
- A FinCen ID
- FEIN or Social Security Number
- Beneficial Owners contact information
- Documentation proof (State ID or Drivers License or Passport)
Link to the FinCen BOI main page
Overall, it doesn’t take long to file your information. Having all of our information in an easily accessible location or on your person will make the process quicker. Be sure to click on the button to add a beneficiary if your business has more than one. It was easy for me to miss the blue button on the right to do that and had to go back and edit the form. Once you’ve submitted your information you’ll be presented with a screen that shows your BOIR ID and the Status of your form along with your contact information. Download and save that for your records. If you’re someone who prints documents, do that and store this some where you’ll be able to recall it if you need it.
With all the new apps coming out these days, Upscayl is one that I really felt led to write about and share with you all. Have you ever had an image that you wanted to use but couldn’t due to it’s low quality and resolution? Maybe an old photograph that was slighly out of focus and would wish you could fix it? Well Upscayl is your solution! It’s a FREE desktop app that is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux and it uses AI to process the image. They’re working on a cloud version so that you may be able to use this within your browser or mobile device without the need to install anything at all.
There’s a few settings that I thought were amazing and wanted to highlight them:
Saving an Image as PNG or JPG
There’s two buttons that you can easily select how you’d want your image to be saved as. Either PNG (Portable Network Graphic) or as JPG.
This toggle switch enables you to select all of the images you have in a select folder to perform the same upscaling option to all of them with a single command. This is extremely useful when you may have many images that you would like to process for better quality and not have to select them one by one and wait for them to process one by one.
Hope you find this helpful and useful in your day to day tasks. Let us know how this may have helped!
As the proud owner of Design Theory, I am thrilled to share a significant milestone in our journey. We have recently been certified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) by Orange County Government | Business Development Division. This achievement is opens up our business opportunities not just to Orange County Government, but also to GOAA, Orange County Public Schools, Orange County Library, and several more agencies.
The Business Development Division of Orange County’s initiative is to increase the utilization of minority and woman-owned businesses (M/WBE) in the County’s procurement process. Our certification as an MBE is a step forward in this direction, enabling us to contribute more significantly to our Central Florida economy. I recently attended a couple of meetings where I learned in great detail from the results of a 5 year Disparity Study, how to search through upcoming expiring contracts, and currently available/open contracts. There’s still more work I am responsible for like identifying closed contracts that our agency may have qualified for, terms, and how much the bids were awarded for. And this is managed through OpenGov.com, also allows you to see other MBEs who are interested in open bids as well as save and favorite agencies (to name a few features). There’s also an eBook OpenGov published called “The 2023 State of Local Government Report” and I would highly recommend that everyone reading this downloads a copy.
As our journey continues we’ll continue to share what we’ve learned and opportunities for other business owners to take advantage and participate. The goal for us is to expand our business through this sector and reach new levels of success and growth.
There’s several people that I’ve personally met and worked with and will continue to work with as we grow in this program. Shout out to Kesi, Patrice, and VaSantha! Knowing that we can stay connected If you’d like more information from the Business Development Division, below is their contact information:
Business Development Division
Internal Operations Centre II, 2nd Floor
400 E South Street
Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: (407) 836-7317