How I Networked My Way in to Bank of Arizona's Boardroom

By Gelie Akhenblit

How I Networked My Way in to Bank of Arizona's Boardroom

How I Networked My Way in to Bank of Arizona’s Boardroom

You might be wondering if networking really does work. Well, to answer that question, I thought I’d share one of my favorite blogs that I wrote about how I literally networked my way in to getting Bank of Arizona as a sponsor for our Signature Event.

In my world, there is not much better than a new business relationship formed through good old fashioned networking. That’s why the story of how we signed our latest Signature Event sponsor, Bank of Arizona is super exciting to me!

It all started when Mitra, our Director of Operations, and I attended a Phoenix Business Journal BizMix event. We love attending their networking events because we always walk out with valuable connections and this night was no different.

While walking around the room and chatting with people, we ran into Michael Gricunas with Bank of Arizona. We know Michael because he worked the exhibitor table for the bank at our previous Signature Event. We all chatted briefly about our excitement for the next Signature Event, and then Michael said to us, “The president of the bank is here. Would you like to meet him?” Um, yeah we’d like to meet him!

Within just a few minutes, Mitra and I were chatting it up with Ryan Suchala, President of Bank of Arizona. Not too bad, eh? Ryan didn’t know too much about, so this was a great opportunity for us to tell him all about us face-to-face; an opportunity we otherwise would have not had. So if you’re one of those people who thinks networking events are a waste of time…here is another proof that they are not.

I will say that I haven’t met too many bank presidents at networking events and would like to give Ryan a big kudos for taking the time to get out and meet the community face-to-face. This really does speak volumes about Ryan as a person and the bank he is representing.I knew right away that this is someone we would really like to partner up with because this partnership would bring tremendous value to our members.

Here is another thing I instantly knew - Ryan was NOT at the event to get sold on anything.No one, not even YOU, likes to get “pitched to” at an event. My goal was to get to know Ryan, find out what’s on his agenda and see if we can offer any value. Simple enough! If Ryan had any reciprocal interest, then he would let us know.

By the end of the event, which was on a Tuesday evening, we had a follow-up meeting scheduled with the marketing department for that Friday. It was at Friday’s meeting that we would have to “sell” their team our value proposition. Remember, there is a time and place for everything, selling at networking events is a big faux pas.

By Friday afternoon, we had Bank of Arizona on board as an event sponsor for the upcoming Signature Event – mission accomplished! We are extremely fortunate and thankful to have such wonderful support from Bank of Arizona in our business and networking community.

Let’s quickly recap what we learned:

  • Find and attend events where your potential clients visit.
  • Try to get a third party introduction to the person you’re interested in meeting.
  • Once you get in front of that person, find out what his/her interests are and how you can help him/her reach those goals.
  • If there is a mutual connection, schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss further.
  • Follow-up the following day with a quick email.
  • Attend the scheduled meeting and discuss business. This is your time to talk about details and see if there is a true fit.


Co-founder of Gelie Akhenblit has harnessed the power of tens of thousands of creative, savvy and entrepreneurial business minds with her company and brings the networking community together to make Arizona business bigger, better and brighter. is an extremely valuable resource that is helpful at any level of membership and with a helpful and knowledgeable co-founder and staff to assist members; it is no wonder that the company boasts a membership of more than 32,000 people!For additional information and to create a free NetworkingPhoenix account, visit