You’ve seen throughout SJK•PR.com that we talk about the three R’s of PR, right? That second R—relationships—often starts with getting involved with an industry, business or civic group by networking. This blog is the first of two posts to help you maximize your ROI of networking.
So what if you’re the type of person who gets shy around people you don’t know and dreads attending business breakfasts, luncheons and happy hours? First, relax, you’re not alone. Know that many of us overcame this fear and proved it’s possible for even the most introverted to come out of his or her shell to form new relationships.
And it’s worth it. SJK•PR has been in business for almost two decades because Steve & his team “do lunch for a living.” Simply stated, these relationships help expand and secure the longevity of your business.
… And you can start by following these simple pointers:
Pick a group you’re interested in. You’ll find every excuse available NOT to attend a group’s networking event if you’re really not interested in its mission or membership. Business contacts are made in every type of organization, not just “chamber” groups, so if you’re really not interested in the more business-focused gatherings, consider charitable, religious or civic involvement. Selecting a group you’re interested in makes the networking more personally rewarding while you’re still building your relationship network.
Prepare yourself. Think of ice-breaker questions and points you might get asked before the event, so you can prepare your delivery. Consider topics, recent events, or industry news you’d like to highlight when talking to a prospect. These few guides will help fill the inevitable, sometimes awkward, silences.
Spread out. Don’t sit with close friends or colleagues. While this advice might sound scary, keep in mind many people at these events don’t know anyone either and will be happy to make conversation with you. Besides, think of it as giving your business the chance to “divide and conquer.”
Adjust your body language. When you’re talking to someone, don’t face them directly. Face them at an angle so you’re able to see the rest of the room. This welcoming body language allows others to join in on the conversation if they want.
Never discuss private matters. Private and specific business discussions should be conducted outside of networking events. Including these areas in your conversation prevents people from joining in, and quite frankly, it’s not appropriate. If you’re caught in the situation where someone is trying to start a private conversation with you, the best idea is just to let them know you’d certainly like to discuss it in more depth at another time and politely give the person your card.
In our next post we’ll discuss the finer points of the actual networking conversations and business card exchange.
As you can probably see, networking (and relationship-building, in general) takes time, but when it’s done correctly, it’s time well-spent. Contact the professionals at SJK?PR for more information on secrets of successful networking and other marketing tips. You can Email us at results@SJKPR.com or give us a call at 904-388-7447.
In fact, call us and let’s do lunch!