In the world of comms, there are many things that are really important. Coming up with a strong, long-term strategy; if you’re in internal comms, being able to engage employees from a range of disciplines and backgrounds; being good at communicating is obviously a must. But something that often gets forgotten is networking.
Networking often falls to the bottom of the list as it’s time consuming and can be awkward and a lot less appealing after a long work week. However, there is a lot of power in doing it regularly.
Maintaining your loyal clients
For the comms industry it’s an essential part of building and maintaining business. Networking is all about making new relationships, finding opportunities and more importantly maintaining your loyal clients and contacts. Ensuring your business is seen in the marketplace is extremely important and often, attending seminars, workshops and or talks, are some of the best ways to get your agency’s face out there.
Some of the most famous faces credit some of their biggest deals to connections they’ve made at networking events. Virgin Founder Richard Branson says, “Succeeding in business is all about making connections”. He credits his thriving business from ensuring all staff have an abundance of networking skills as it’s this that has allowed him to succeed in so many different industries. He believes, “Business is all about personal contact. No matter how heavy your workload is… everyone can and should be a networker.”
Business is all about personal contact
It needn’t be hard
Forging swift and strong connections can lead to some of the longest working relationships and best business. Networking doesn’t always need to be hard work and forced fun. It can be organised, such as a regular meet and greet session, hosted by your own agency to drum up new business or continue the longstanding relationships you already have. Keeping clients happy is part of the deal. It can also just be a regular chat over coffee that happens to include some business discussions.
It can be mistaken for the place to sell
One thing to remember, is that most people are much more relaxed in a social setting, than when they’re in a business meeting doing a presentation for example. Face to face is also always best as you get the chance to build a rapport with someone, or a group of people and also iron out any difficult discussions that need to be had in a much more positive environment.
Networking isn’t about selling, but it can be mistaken for the place to sell. It’s actually discussing, building a bond with someone and also exchanging ideas, best practice and sometimes business. It’s almost like setting the scene for a future rehearsal. Networking is the groundwork and it could lead to something beautiful, or it may take a few sessions to really get the connection going.
Clients tend to do most of their business with people they trust and like. This is where networking comes in handy. When you dine with someone, or share a drink, it’s almost breaking down the formal barrier. There is of course a line, but building a relationship in this manner is one of the best ways to deliver results long term. It helps increase your knowledge of the industry you work in, you could gain new and additional contacts and the connections made may even lead to you furthering your career.
Networking can also give you the opportunity to show off what you or your agency can do. If you host your own event, take centre stage and show what your business does and succeeds at. It’s a chance to show possible competitors and also, prospective clients how good you are at content marketing or internal communications by revealing some of your best campaigns. It could also be an opportunity to gain new business, by asking your existing contacts to bring someone along too. If there’s something you’re particularly proud of, or you have a new string to your bow, this is also the time to show your existing clients what else they could be using you for and how this could benefit them.
Clients tend to do most of their business with people they trust
It is about wining and dining, but it’s also about showing your personality and seizing opportunities. Networking doesn’t always appear to be high on the priority list in communications, but it could be just the ticket to springboard your business to the next level.
Networking can also be done on a smaller scale within a business. If you work closely with a large organisation, making contacts within their company is also a good idea. This includes building up your connections across their business, but also attending as many of their events, workshops and seminars as possible. It could open the door to further engagement opportunities and also enhance their employee communications too.
The other benefits include having people in the industry you can also call upon yourself and you know they have your back. It could be a business you call on when you’re visiting a new place, or a friend you call on to help you in a sticky situation.
All round, this is a circle of success.