Entries Tagged 'networking' ↓
May 24th, 2013 — Building a business, networking
If you follow this blog you’ll know that networking is not one of my favourite business activities. But as it is a necessary evil of the freelance life of a copywriter, I have to force myself to endure it now and then (but not as often as I should).
As I sit here preparing myself for tonight’s networking event (eek!) I can’t help but think about how closely related PR and networking are.
For example, if I were meeting a member of the press to promote my business, there are certain things I would automatically do, which are also things I should be doing when networking.
Hmm, that’s sounds rather vague, so I’ll explain what I mean.
Whether you like it or not image matters in business. By image I mean not only how you look, but also how you come across to others and how you interact with them.
Listen and interact
A bad networker will talk at you and not ask any questions about you or your business. They see the event as a way of speaking to lots of people and an opportunity to get rid of loads of business cards – not very effective.
But a good networker will drive the conversation with lots of open-ended questions that will lead the conversation in the direction they want it to go. They don’t bully answers from the person they are speaking to, instead they chat, ask questions and gather vital information that lets them know whether they can help them or not (now or in the future).
They effectively start to build a relationship with them.
Not everyone finds it easy to maintain eye contact with someone, especially if they don’t know him or her. But glancing left and right or looking at the floor while speaking comes across as quite rude.
By maintaining eye contact (without it turning into a staring match) you’re showing interest in the other person and holding their attention. It shows engagement and attentiveness, which will encourage the other person to chat openly with you.
If you do find it challenging, practice in the mirror.
Dress to impress
Be smart, but be expressive. There’s nothing worse than being at an event dressed up like a kipper and feeling uncomfortable. A networking event doesn’t mean you have to be suited and booted. Just make sure you’re smartly presented; dress like you want to be taken seriously.
It’s about you not me
Whatever you do, don’t just talk about you.
We’ve all been to a networking event and been talked at by the person who just wants to shout about their achievements, their business and their goals – yes, the networking bore.
If you want to be well received introduce yourself, but then ask them about their business, their future plans and what interests them. Make an offer of help or refer them to someone who may be able to help them reach their goals, just don’t be pushy.
Networking and PR are very closely related. Listening, eye contact, interacting and image are all an important part of the networking process. It may not come easy, but practice makes perfect.
April 29th, 2013 — networking
I’ve spend years writing oodles of blog posts about the skills of a copywriter, marketer and social media user and how they can be used to help boost your business success. But if there’s one aspect of running a business I don’t enjoy, it’s networking.
Some people love it and get a real buzz from entering a room of strangers and working it.
That’s not my experience.
I hate it with a passion. I would rather swim with sharks than go networking, which is why I’ve done most of mine online. In the world of social media I get to hide behind my Mac and pretend to be whoever I want to be. You would have thought the easy solution would be for me to pretend to be that person when at an event, I tried it – it didn’t help.
The most enjoyable event I’ve been to (yes, I do force myself to ‘get out there’ every now and then) was a Dirty Dancing workshop cunningly disguised as a networking event. It was great fun and because everyone was having a laugh it didn’t seem like networking.
Yes, that’s me flying
By the way, before you think I’ve gone off my rocker, the guy that ran it is part of a business Facebook group and he offered to run the workshop (which is usually for schools, hen nights, parties etc.) as a way of a ‘getting to know you’ thing.
Now Richard who runs it played the role of Jonny Castle in the West End production of Dirty Dancing (amongst other stage and TV credits) so I was amazed when we were chatting and he said he felt the same way as me about networking.
Seriously? Here’s an actor/dancer who hates walking into a room of people and can’t just strike up a conversation with them. Me I can understand, but him?
Anyway, that is a rather long winded way of getting to the point of this post.
I’m asking you for your help – call it a bit of reverse blogging if you like – what tips can you give a non-networker like myself to convince me to get out there and give it a try?
What strategies have you used in the past to help you break into groups and introduce yourself?
You really would be doing me a huge favour by offering some advice.
P.S. If you want to know more about the dance workshops, Richard’s website is Dance With West End Stars.
February 4th, 2013 — Building a business, marketing, networking, social media
The following guest post was written by Lucy Harper. The author’s views are entirely her own and may not reflect the views of FreelanceCopywritersBlog.com. If you are interested in producing a Guest Post for this blog, please get in touch with your ideas.
Many small business owners, especially those whose businesses are primarily online, can find themselves existing in a bubble, far removed from the community around them. While your focus may be in reaching out through social media marketing to expand your global reach, don’t forget the consumers in your immediate surroundings. By tipping the scales a bit so they balance community and global focus, you can build your small business while benefiting your community. As you endeavour to do both, you’ll enjoy the opportunity to gain loyal customers and followers around the world and in your own backyard.
- Incorporate Traditional Marketing Techniques. Although you can reach consumers in your community with social media marketing, traditional marketing methods can help you target those in the surrounding area. Leave no stone unturned by incorporating methods such as flyers, radio commercials on local stations, advertisements in your local newspapers and word-of-mouth marketing.
- Participate in Community Exhibitions. Throughout the year, communities host all kinds of exhibitions, from those promoting small local businesses to theme-based expos, such as health and education exhibitions. Most of these are planned a year in advance, which allows you to plan your participation in advance, too. Bring marketing information to pass out to attendees, and spend the day meeting and talking with those present, as well as other vendors.
- Attend Neighbourhood Festivals. Small neighbourhood festivals and gatherings can be a great place to promote your business if it fits the theme of the festival. Check with small town commerce centres and home-owner associations to see if your participation might be mutually beneficial. Rather than merely showing up to the festival and standing there the entire day, plan some activities or give demonstrations the community members would be interested in.
- Become Involved in Community-Based Networking. Networking is essential for small businesses, but most owners limit their networking efforts to the Internet. Get to know other small-business owners in your community and find out how they extend their local reach by attending regular networking meetings. Research networking groups available, and see if you can attend a meeting to ensure the group is right for you.
- Give Back to Your Community. As your business grows, it’s important to give back to the community. Choose a local organization or charity to be the recipient of your gifts, and then find out how you can best donate. Some organizations might prefer a donation of your time, whereas others will benefit from products, services or cash donations.
As you reach out to the community around you, you’ll find that your investment comes back to you in the form of loyal customers. In today’s technology-based world, small-business owners are often so focused on obtaining the global reach enjoyed by other businesses that they neglect to see the value in establishing a community connection. Balance your efforts to achieve both and benefit consumers in your surroundings. The efforts you put forth in reaching out can help you grow your business in ways you wouldn’t have been able to solely through Internet marketing.
Guest post contributed by Lucy Harper from TouchPointDigital.co.uk
January 25th, 2013 — Building a business, marketing, networking
When you run a business you have to self-promote in one way or another. All your marketing, networking and social media activity is aimed at boosting your profile. But how you go about that self-promotion will have a huge impact on how you are perceived by others.
My business is fantastic
If you go around telling people at networking events and through your online content (website copy, articles, blogs and social media) how amazing you are, you’ll come across as big headed and disingenuous.
No one is going to want to know you or do business with you (probably) because they have no reason to believe your claims.
But if you leave it to others to praise you through testimonials, online reviews etc., your company will be seen in a different light because third party praise is seen as being authentic and believable.
Our products are great
Really? Do you think people are going to believe that your products are the best on the planet just because you say so?
If your website copy bangs on about how amazing your products or services are, how they are the best on the market and how everyone thinks they’re the best thing since sliced bread, it will be taken with a pinch of salt.
Have an independent writer, company or researcher review your products and services and you’re on to something.
Or, how about asking one of your clients to be the focus of a case study? By giving a real life illustration of how your company helped someone, you’ll be adding extra kudos to your marketing.
I’m almost embarrassed by how great I am
We’ve all met them, haven’t we? At a networking event there’s always one person who swans around as though they were the bee’s knees. They’ve done everything, achieved everything and succeeded at everything – leaving you wondering why they then feel it necessary to attend the networking event.
People like that have a tendency of getting the backs up of others. They’ll be seen as being very up themselves and instantly disliked and possibly mistrusted.
But if someone else recommends you to someone because they’ve done business with you, then you’ll be seen as someone to know, someone who’s passionate about what they do and who cares about their customers.
So the main thing to remember about self-promotion is that third party testimonials, reviews and case studies are worth their weight in gold. Yes, you need to let people know how good you, your products and your services are, but in such a way that it’s believable, genuine and trustworthy.
May 9th, 2012 — networking, social media, social networking
Let me ask you something. Do you enjoy networking?
By networking I mean the face to face variety.
It tends to be a marmite thing – you either love it or hate it. Me – I hate it.
When someone mentions networking to me, I immediately envisage a room full of people desperate to sell, but no one wanting to buy.
But networking doesn’t only happen that way.
Networking – the social side
Social media has opened a whole new way to network.
In my experience (and yes, there are exceptions and we’ll take about those later), most people who use social networking sites are there to chat, exchange ideas, offer advice and to generally have fun.
Did you see that? I used networking and fun in the same sentence.
It’s almost as though, because you’re not all cooped up in a room, people relax and chat more. They don’t feel as though they must leave with at least one sales lead (which, incidentally, is never the best mind-set for networking).
Of course, there are still those who believe that networking is equivalent to spamming. On social networking you see it through constant promotional posts and tweets; in real life is it the guy who immediately hands you a brochure before even saying hello.
One of the main benefits of social networking is that you can do it from your desk. If you’re snowed under it’s often difficult to make time to get out to an organised event. But if you dabble on the social side, you can easily fit in a few posts and tweets whilst sat at your desk.
There is another type of networking – you probably don’t even think of it as networking – and that’s when you meet people in everyday life.
How many times have you struck up a conversation with someone in the school playground, in the bus queue or on the train, and ended up talking about work?
It’s one of those questions you naturally ask someone you meet someone for the first time.
This type of conversation often leads to finding out interesting information because it’s far more informal and the person you’re speaking with is less likely to launch into their well-rehearsed sales pitch when not in a traditional networking environment.
Striking up a conversation
So we’ve looked at social networking and ‘free-styling’, but what about those dreaded formal situations? How do you make the most of them?
I don’t know about you, but my biggest problem with networking events is breaking into groups already chatting, especially if you don’t know anyone there.
If you have any strategies about that I’d love to hear them.
Normally, I’ll take the route of finding someone who’s also on the fringes and try to chat to them. Rather than opening with ‘Hello, my name is Sally and I’m a copywriter’, I usually ask a question about them – normally not work related.
If it’s a lady and she happens to be wearing a striking necklace, I’ll comment on it and start a conversation that way. Basically, I’ll comment on anything other than work, that way I get to know them as a person rather than them as a business.
That’s just my way of coping – what do you do?
Leave a comment below and see what tips we can muster between us to make your networking more effective (and less scary).