It's all about networking...
By Tracy Hargreaves - 27 October 2014
An important part of working in PR is taking part in networking meetings. But what sets apart a good network event from a bad one. If you’re not careful you can spend a lot of time out of the office going to events that aren’t really relevant and don’t generate business. So how can you tell the difference?
Networking is all about building relationships and establishing a reputation, it’s not about how many people you can give your business card to. Being too pushy doesn’t get you anywhere, let alone new business.
Think about your business and what you are looking for, then think about the experience of your team and who is best to attend. There’s little point in sending someone to a social media seminar who hasn’t got a clue what a hashtag or a scheduled post is.
With a passion for and a background in food and drink, I recently attended two networking events on this subject. Made in Lancashire recently ran a ‘Meet and Greet’ event at which a range of businesses involved in the food and drink sector attended, from producers, through to visitor attractions and professional services. We were all asked to provide a question we wanted to ask, this was then stuck to a flip chart so others could read it and we could link up to those companies, where we could provide help and give advice. A great idea and got people sharing information, experiences and more importantly contact details! We even met a dairy farmer who is making his own chocolate milk and wants help to rebrand and promote it.
The second event was organised by the Preston Marriott Hotel. It was launching its new steak menu and wanted to do something different. They held an intimate dinner for 16 media contacts including food bloggers, PR consultants and journalists from lifestyle publications, where we had the opportunity to blind taste steaks from Lancashire and the US. Once we had chosen our favourite, this was cooked for us so we could all review. By suggesting to them, they create their own #presmarriottsteakoff hashtag, everyone used this when talking about the event and created a real buzz on social media. This has helped, not only to build up followers on Twitter and Facebook but reaffirmed our relationships with the journalists. A valuable part of our job.
So below are some do’s and don’ts of networking
Do – Do your research on the event before going and if possible get a list of attendees, there might be someone you would like to talk to
Don’t – take along a pile of business cards and thrust them into people’s hands and then leave.
Do – make sure you follow up with someone you have met if you have said you will do so.
Don’t – sit in a corner not talking to people. Likewise don’t hog speaking to the same people.So research who you want in your ‘net’ and make sure it ‘works’ for you. Get networking!