Last week we were fortunate enough to receive an invitation to and attend a rather unique networking event that I wanted to write about here. The event was sponsored by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) and held at their beautiful offices in Tysons Corner, VA. I attended the event with my co owner Dave Baldini (who from this point forward will be referred to in my posts as The Biz).
PWC sent out invitations to about 15-20 small businesses in the area that they are currently doing business with or would like to do business with in the coming year or so and invited them to come to a reception at their offices after hours. They provided food and drinks for all in attendence which for me automatically made it a cool event. Sounds like a normal networking event you say? Hear me out.
What made this event different than most was that PWC invited 2 guest speakers in that were government employees. The individuals that spoke were leaders of Small Business Offices at government agencies and were great resources for those of us in the room. The talked to us about upcoming opportunities at their organizations, gave us tips on how to acquire business there and answered any questions we had about doing business there as well.
After the speakers were done we had an opportunity to speak more to them as well as network with managers from PWC and also the owners from the other small businesses in attendence. The BIz and I divided and conquered and collected as many business cards as we could in the time that we had. We already have follow on meetings scheduled with PWC as well as a few of the small business owners we met. What a great idea by PWC….truly a win win for them as well as the rest of us in attendence. Companies like PWC have requirements they need to meet each year for business they need to give to small businesses. This helps them build a network of small businesses to work with in the future. For the small businesses the benefits were obvious. Free beer and food. I mean meeting other small business owners as well as Senior managers at a firm like PWC. Also, the ability to hear first hand from Small Business Office managers about upcoming opportunities.
This event also marked a very interesting event for us as a company. This was one of the first times I feel we attended any sort of a networking event like this where we actually were one of the larger of the small businesses in attendence. It felt good to realize how far we have come and how well we have done and continue to do.
I tip my cap to PWC for putting together this great event and it makes me wonder what other type of events do big businesses put on to provide networking opportunities with small businesses? Small businesses are of huge importance to large companies and it’s important that we as small business owners keep that in mind. Don’t go into these events awestruck but rather go feeling as if you belong. As with many situations…Act like you’ve been there before. It shows and it makes a company like PWC comfortable working with you.