Networking: it’s a love / hate thing
People tend to respond to the idea of ‘networking’ with instinct rather than strategy, possibly because people tend to think they’re either naturally good or bad at it. But the truth is it’s a skill like any other.
If you freeze in dread at the very idea of networking at trade events, here at ec-pr we can teach you how to make ir more fruitful and enjoyable.
And if you’re already a social butterfly, we can help you win better publicity by making the right connections at conferences and Trade Shows and following them up. Read on! You can also download our free guide on Gold Standard Event Publicity here.
Trade shows and exhibitions are all about making connections – networking. Whether that is meeting new people or strengthening existing relationships, your role is to engage with your industry’s media and deliver a story. Be confident with your messaging and prepared to tackle those off the cuff or sensitive questions. This takes practice and experience, but go prepped and you can make the right impression to get your business noticed by the media organisations who matter.
Here are our tips to help you optimise your media networking at that all-important event:
1. Spend time thinking about your introduction/icebreaker
This can be as simple as your name and what you do followed up by simple open questions – don’t forget to smile!
2. Make your time memorable
Consider describing what you do in a more interesting or memorable way, for example, if you specialise in marine environmental protection, you could say that you are “the guardians of the deep”.
3. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them
Think about how you can put them at ease (quickly find a common ground, i.e, Is this your first time at this event? Who in the industry do you both know?) and make them feel more comfortable about asking questions – this will help you to manage your nerves too.
4. Every connection is potentially valuable
Whether it’s school children you could inspire, a politician you could influence, or a journalist you could educate, every interaction should be treated as an opportunity to practice being interesting and engaging.
5. Prepare three open questions
Encourage engagement by preparing three open-ended questions which cover safe territory.
What happens when you get thrown a curve ball? Keep following for next blog on How to tackle those unwanted/unexpected questions.
Missed our blog on How to write an impactful Press Release – read it here.
This blog is part of our series Event Publicity: The Gold Standard.
For a FREE COPY OF OUR EVENTS GUIDE: THE GOLD STANDARD, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s less than 24 hours until London’s Olympia opens its doors for Europe’s number one information security event. So, now is the time to tick off those final tasks on your to-do list and confirm any additional meetings with customers, prospects and journalists. Here are a couple of last minute tips to ensure you maximise your ROI.
1. Make contact:
Have a final look through your contacts database and make sure that you’ve connected with everyone who is attending or exhibiting, letting them know you’ll be there. If you’re having a drinks reception or a particular launch event at your stand, let them know so that they can come by and have an opportunity to talk to you and the team.
2. Consider all communication options:
Infosec has its own blog section providing high level thought leadership articles from a range of industry experts. Have a look through this and consider possible views that your organisation’s experts can contribute towards. The Press Office will be located on the ground floor of Olympia Grand.
3. Be hands-on:
Touch base with the Press Office once or twice a day and put forward your organisation’s experts for credible and thought provoking contributions.
4. A picture paints a thousand words:
Invite the show photographer to your stand for any official ‘launch’ or contract signings.
The two most common questions I’m asked by engineers is how to manage nerves and how to make a great first impression. It all comes down to preparation and having a process. Here are twelve ways to make a great first impression for a meeting or networking event.
1.Have a purpose to your network/meeting – If you are clear about your desired outcome, you are much more likely to achieve it.
2.Do your research – Where possible, do your research because it shows respect and interest – prepare a question or two that shows you have a genuine interest in the person.
3.Listen to the news headlines – Before you head out to a network/meeting listen to the news as this will always give you something to talk about.
4.Stand tall – A person with their head up is more impressive than a person staring down at their feet.
5.Be attentive – Turning your whole body to acknowledge someone and shake their hand, makes them feel significant.
6.Hold eye contact – Holding eye contact and maintaining it for one extra second, helps make a genuine connection but don’t turn it into a staring competition!
7.Smile – Put the other person at ease, and mask your own insecurities or uncertainties. If you focus on making them feel good you’ll forget your own nerves.
8.Ask lots of questions – Look for common ground, someone with common interests is more memorable and you want to be remembered. Ask ‘how do you fill your day?’ rather than ‘what do you do?’ because it lends itself to a broader and more interesting conversation.
9.Make connections – Help people wherever you can, it will make you feel good and will help develop meaningful relationships.
10.Record useful contact information – Make notes about every contact you meet as soon as is practicable after the event, with reminders of conversations etc.
11.Follow up – Always follow up when you said you would and by whichever means you agreed. Be prompt, polite and reliable.
12.Practice starting conversations – Practice as often as you can – it could be at the coffee shop, ticket office or taxi queue; make ‘making conversation’ second nature so that you communicate with authenticity
The last point is in fact the most important. Be prepared to practice talking to people in non-critical, informal situations so that you can get it right when it is important to you. The more you practice the more confident you become. You only have one opportunity to make a great first impression and in business those opportunities can be career changing. Communicating effectively with customers, colleagues and the media can be enormously rewarding when you get it right.
If you want an unfair advantage of being taught by a communications expert, sign up for my Communication Skills for Engineers programme I’m running for RINA – there are limited numbers, so sign up now.