Networking: Getting What You Want
A few weeks ago I wrote the first part of a two-post series about ways for mid-senior level PR pros to start thinking about networking through a strategic lens. Here’s my conclusion.
First, she urged me to think about how much time I could commit to networking. At BlissPR we are given pretty free rein to join industry associations, but we must become part of a committee or board once we’re members. This is to ensure our active participation – and even leadership – in these groups. In the same vein, my colleague reminded me it’s important to make a regular commitment to the act of networking itself. She herself tries to attend one event or do something once a week to meet new people – not an easy task when juggling a heavy workload and full personal life.
Once you make this commitment, here are some good tactical steps you can take in order to maximize your time at events and extend the connections you make in those rooms.
- Go in with a plan: Ask the event organizers if an attendee list is available and pick out three people who you want to meet, based on their industry, job title, or function. If there isn’t a list, introduce yourself to the event organizer, who can give you an idea of who is there and may even be able to make an introduction for you.
- Be curious: People like to talk about themselves. They warm up to people who are truly interested in what they have to say. Ask how their business is going. Ask about their biggest challenge right now, and their biggest win. Ask how they’re getting their thought leadership out to the market or what audiences they want to reach. Asking questions gives you the chance to both empathize with their experience and offer ideas that may be helpful to them.
- Communicate your “wins”: Look for ways to subtly work your skills into the conversation. If you’re talking to a marketing director who mentions his CEO has gone through a score of speechwriters and you regularly write on behalf of CEO clients, say “It’s a challenge to get a leader’s voice and intent right – I ghostwrite for CEOs and it takes a lot of trust-building up front to get them to open up to you and let their thoughts flow freely.” This shows you understand the problem, but also have experience solving it.
- Don’t put on the hard sell: This is a cardinal sin. Networking is about building relationships, not asking for favors. Get to know the people you meet – go out for coffee, share content with them to get an email exchange going – before thinking about what you can get from them.
- Connect methodically post-event: When you get home from an event, take every business card you got, sit down at the computer, and connect with each person on LinkedIn – always using a personalized message. Set reminders to check in with them regularly via LinkedIn, email, or phone.
Here are some other networking resources I like that can add to this list of tips:
Networking Advice from Keith Ferrazzi (video tips and written posts from a networking legend)
To reach Siobhan: