Business Networking Made Easy, Part 2
Business networking can be a key tool in building a PR agency, or a public relations-communications practitioner’s career. Yet for some, it’s more frightening than public speaking (which many Americans rank as scarier than dying). If you’re in this group, you may benefit from my post, “Get Over Your Fear Of Business Networking.”
Others don’t necessarily fear business networking, but simply want to be more effective at doing it. If you’re in this group, I believe you’ll find these four steps beneficial:
1) Your Goal: To Help And Connect Others. Too many of us attend business networking events with the goal of merely getting help or connections for ourselves. That, I believe, violates the true idea behind networking. Have a plan to assist at least three other attendees in their efforts to build their business, make connections, or find a job. Do so, and you’ll be paying it forward for all the good deeds done for you over your career. You’ll also increase the chance that some attendees will indeed do something good for you.
2) Engage Deeply And Move On. We often get caught up in lengthy conversations with attendees whom we find fascinating, or despite the fact that after a few minutes, we sense that we can’t do anything for them and vice-versa. But perhaps we feel it’s awkward to end the conversation. To avoid this, use the following plan: Engage deeply with each person with whom you interact, listening actively for what you can do for them. (Believe me, it’ll be easy to detect what they can do for you.) Spend a few minutes, tell them it was a pleasure to meet, state what you’ll do for them, if applicable, and that you don’t want to monopolize them. Then trade business cards, shake hands, and move on.
3) Take Notes. A few days or even a few hours after attending a networking event, it can be challenging to remember everyone we met, whom they mentioned they know, what we said we’d do for one another, etc. So immediately after leaving the person and before you move on to the next one, take just a few minutes to write down some key words that will help you remember the highlights of your interaction. Do this on their business card, or use Evernote to do the same.
4) Decide If You Should Be Presenting To This Group. Let’s assume you’re at a business networking event attended by approximately 50 peers, prospects or influencers. Depending on how long the informal “networking” portion of the event is, how deeply you interact, and how quickly you “work the room,” you’ll have meaningful engagement with five-to-seven attendees. But how much more would it benefit your business if all 50 could, for a full 20-to-30 minutes, experience some of your knowledge, think about to whom they could connect you, ask a favor of you, or learn more about your offerings? If the answer is “a lot,” then immediately investigate how you can speak at one of the group’s next meetings. If the answer is “not much,” then why are you attending this group’s events?
Please share your thoughts on how you’ve maximized business networking events in the “Comments” section.