‘I don’t do networking’ says my friend and sometime guru, Tony. ‘It’s always about sellers not buyers’.
This got me thinking. Tony is wise, shrewd and been a boss for years. For some of us – freelancers and small enterprise types – networking means PR, marketing and selling. It just means letting others know we exist and what we offer.
And the great news is that with so many more outlets for networking these days, while it may make focus difficult, there are all sort of tactics that we shy, sensitive and reserved types can use.
1. Produce interesting and good stuff, online, available and tangible.You don’t need to be shouting about it – but it needs to be there.
2. What do you prefer…talking /writing/ creating images or footage/data analysis? Do your best, most.
3. And maybe learn a bit more about the others…
4. We sort mentally on the web – and more offline today too I suspect – based on subject. What one word describes a subject that you enjoy talking about anywhere to anybody? (Tip:’myself’ is not a good choice. But ‘fashion”rugby’ or ‘French fancies’ may be…or even, ahem…’golf’. Just don’t talk about that last one to me, please)
5. And can you get what you offer the world down to one word, too? Like ‘commerciality’ ‘creativity’ or ‘engagement’.
6. Why so reductionist? you may ask. Recent books like Your Brain At Work emphasize how brains are comfortable receiving single units of information at a time. Multi-tasking’s a myth; we merely cope – or not- with interruptions.
7. So we help others if we give them a single idea to remember us by – and better to keep our fascinating complexity for our nearest and dearest…
8. For the reserved, lack of structure in networking events is a challenge. If a networking event looks unfocussed and woolly with no activity, perhaps best to avoid. Set up your own alternative.
9. A film boss client hated networking. He would check out – or guess – who was going to industry events, contact them beforehand and say ‘Love to have 5 minutes with you in Starbucks beforehand if you would be so kind. Can’t make actual event. Any chance you could spare the time please?’ Worked a treat.
10. Random and useful bits of information and connection get exchanged live that can be much slower to access, or even ever discover, online. And a live event can generate lots of attention online – I like to ask ‘ Will I learn anything here?’ before sign-up.
11. You can learn these skills and more too, live .
And, honest injun, this post has not just been an excuse to link you to one of my new pages.