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Colin McConnell is the President of Biz Match Connect. His passion is connecting businesses together and building business relationships. Colin started collecting business cards when he was 6 years old and organized them by color and alphabetical. Digging through some old boxes he found his old business card collection… and realized he never grew out of it.
BizMatchConnect is an online B2B social networking website. The site connects you to targeted industries you want to grow a business relationship with. It matches you to potential prospects, referral partners and referral sources similar to how dating sites match you to the specific person you want to meet.
MO: How does Biz Match Connect work?
Colin: When you sign up for BizMatchConnect you set up a profile about your company, you, and what companies you are looking to connect with. Then you will go to the industry category list to check off the descriptions that best describe your company/ industry and you will check off the industries and companies you want to be matched up with. Once you choose the industries the computer will match you to all that qualify. There is also marketing material, thank you letters, and manager forms on the site that you can use to help run your day to day business needs.
MO: How did you come up with the idea for the company? What did your development process look like?
Colin: I was working for a company at the time that belonged to four face to face networking groups and I personally was currently using several dating sites at the time. Then it hit me… there wasn’t any business networking sites that match you specifically to the industry you want to connect with like a dating site matches you to the individual you want to meet. When you attend a face to face networking group you stand up and tell a group of professionals about your company and what business you want to connect with. I came up with the idea of a website that does that for you so it will help save time in your networking in devours, so you can focus more on marketing, working with clients, growing your business and spending time with your family.
MO: Can you talk about how you like to host events that bring companies together to network in an untraditional way?
Colin: My father always raised me to think outside the box, to help my community, and those in need. I knew that starting my company my business would incorporate those same principles. More often than not face to face networking groups do the same things to connect business owners together, it may be an after hours cocktail mixer or a golf outing. I think these are all great things but, I wanted to take a different approach. I would put on a happy hour business mixer called TEMPUS (means Time in Latin) where business professionals would pay a fee to attend and the proceeds went to a featured charity that we would promote and have speak at the event. So companies would be taking time for their business and time for their community. We would get any where from 125- 200 people at the event.
I started a monthly business brainstorming session called Think Tank. This gathered around 100 business professionals together and I would split them into groups of people that they haven’t met before. Each month we would give a different topic on marketing and growing your business. We would split the group into around 10 tables with each table coming up with 5 fresh ideas to share. So at the end of the Think Tank everyone would leave with 50 new ideas to help grow their company. It is a huge success and helps break the ice and connect a lot of people that normally wouldn’t meet.
When I host a networking event and events to help other companies get exposure I like to feature a charity to help raise funds and awarness. A charity that is near and dear to my heart is CoDA (Coalition for Dwarf Advocacy/ www.FB.com/DwarfAdvocacy). My friend is a dwarf and my other friends adopted a dwarf orphan. The charities main objective is to get dwarf orphans adopted. So I came up with the Dwarf vs Celebrity basketball game. This game featured people from Pirates of the Caribbean, Little People Big World, Star Trek, Seinfeld, former NBA players etc. We raised over $25,000 for charity in our first game and had over 1400 people come with doing are promotion through social media. We have done the game in Detroit, Montana and now looking at Detroit, Vegas, San Diego and Australia. This game has been a huge part in networking for my company and has gotten me in touch with business professionals I would not normally meet. Plus we are putting orphans into loving homes.
MO: BizMatchConnect has raised over $75,000 in charity this past year and you hope to double that in 2012. Where does your passion and commitment to philanthropy come from?
Colin: Ever since I can remember our family outings on the weekends were made up of volunteering at shelters/ nursing homes, doing food drives, book drives, and clothing drives. This is something that I thought all families did but when I got older I knew this was not the norm. When I was in my late teens my mother suffered with Multiple Sclerosis. I stared doing fundraisers to help the cause and so they researchers could come closer in finding a cure. It was amazing the support I got from the community and the awareness it drew to the cause. My mom and father have now passed but I know that the more I can help charities in need, companies and charities get more exposure it will keep their memory alive.
MO: What the main advantages of being part of a business networking community?
Colin: The ability to grow your circle of influence so you can utilize them to help assist your clients, build a referral partnership with, and or referral sources. It is a great feeling when someone asks to connect with a specific industry and you can say “here is a few people in that industry that I have built a relationship with and that I trust. Please give them a call and see how you can work together.”
MO: Can you tell our readers a bit about the book you’re currently working on and what’s inspired your writing process?
Colin: I am working on a book titled Social Media Success that I hope to have out some time this April. The book is about business professionals that left traditional marketing and focused marketing themselves through Social Media, and the success they have gotten from it. A lot of times Social Media books are out of date before they are ever printed because it (Social Media) is always changing. I wanted to write more about the stories, branding and marketing of social media. The book came from talking to my friend who started a blog to put recipes online for her friends. Her blog started to take off and started to get a ton of followers. I worked with her on marketing her blog by creating a facebook fan page . My friend became 7-months bed ridden with her 2nd child and focused that time on marketing and branding her page. On the year anniversary of her fan page she had over 7000 fans, written up in news papers, radio interviews, and her fan page gets over a million page impressions a month. I wanted to write her story and others to hope to inspire them to start using social media to brand their company.
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