10 networking tactics that most people screw up

Image

David Spark

We all network, but we don’t all do it effectively. In fact, most of us are really bad at it. That’s very odd, as almost all of us are out there schmoozing and connecting with people.

I have become better at networking over the years. What I’m truly surprised by are all the commonsense elements of networking that are completely lost on people. Here are 10 things that most people should be doing—or doing better.

1. Press the flesh.

The core to networking is meeting people face to face. Except for rare occasions, such as long-distance online romances, all the friends and business colleagues that we trust we’ve met in person. If you think you can be an effective networker solely by engaging in social media, you’re sorely wrong. You have to get out and press the flesh.

2. Stop staring at your phone.

The worst offenders are people working a booth at a trade show. Nothing screams, “I don’t want to talk with you, and I’m too scared to talk with anyone,” more than staring at your phone. You’re blowing an amazing opportunity every time you stare at your phone at an event where you could make a true connection with someone walking by. Stop doing it.

3. Always have business cards.

This should be as basic as remembering to bring your driver’s license, credit cards, and money in your wallet. Make sure you always have business cards, especially if you’re attending a conference or trade show. Bring more than you think you’ll need. I am always stunned when I go to a conference and someone doesn’t have business cards. How do you expect someone to follow up with you? You can’t, because they won’t. But that’s often not an issue given the next technique.

4. Always follow up.

This is the core of all networking: following up. If you don’t do it, you might as well never have met the person. I would estimate that one out of 20 people I hand my business card to follows up. Collecting business cards without following up is a wasted engagement. It only takes days for the person to completely forget meeting you. If you follow up with some level of context of your meeting it increases the value and impact of the meeting. To remember that meeting, take notes on the business card.

When you do follow up, be specific about your follow up. Don’t just say, “Nice to have met you,” or, “We should meet for coffee sometime,” because that now puts the onus on the other person to set up the meeting and discuss its purpose. That’s quite a burden. If you want that to happen, you need to set the place, time, and purpose of the discussion.

5. Add to your address book/CRM program.

If you’re going to follow up with someone, you must capture them in your contact manager or, better, in your customer relationship management (CRM) program, whose main function is to help you manage connections and follow up with those connections.

6. Respond when someone follows up.

Similar to the above, I’m always astonished when I send a follow-up email to someone I just met the day before and they don’t even respond. I would say that at best one out of four people respond to a personal follow-up email. The lack of response is a slap in the face. It would be the equivalent of walking away from a conversation midsentence. We never do that, because it’s rude. It’s also rude if you don’t respond to a follow-up email.

7. Listen.

Yes, it’s good to be directed about what you’re doing and have focus, but you’ll be a far more effective networker and make better connections if you simply listen to others. If someone else isn’t as much a talker as you are, then ask questions. Pull them out of their shell; that will let you to listen to them. Networking is not an opportunity for you to spout out marketing copy that you hope someone else will absorb. Your job is to listen and create a relationship first.

8. Get people to like you.

This should be your top priority. Any objective or goal you may have can be extremely simplified if you just get people to like you. If people don’t know you, don’t trust you, or, worse, don’t like you, then making a true connection or selling them anything will be an uphill battle.

9. Follow on social media.

Social media affords us the ability to maintain connections with hundreds if not thousands of people through ambient intimacy. That’s the ability to know and converse with someone through a general open social conversation, most notably through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The only way you can continue this social conversation is to follow people in all these social spaces. Offer your links to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and ask for theirs in return.

10. Follow up—again.

Though you can’t keep following up with everyone, the point of networking is to maintain those relationships. Social media will probably be the most effective and efficient way to do this. That means you need to actually respond to people’s Facebook posts, Tweets, and LinkedIn questions. But once again, if you want to make true relationships you need to go back to step 1 and press the flesh.

Conclusion: Networking takes work, but it pays off.

Networking is hard work, and though I admit that I make mistakes with some of the above techniques, I have adhered to them as solidly as possible for six years. The payoff for me has been tremendous. It will pay off for you as well. And if you do it right, it’s actually a lot of fun. What’s not to like about schmoozing and meeting new people?

This article was originally a report published by Spark Media Solutions’ David Spark (@dspark) for Intertainment Media‘s Ingaged Blog, makers and distributors of the KNCTR and Ortsbo. 

Advertisements

Hospital fundraisers a snooze? Not this Chicago gala.

Image

Jessica Levco

Forget those stuffy black- and white-tie hospital galas.

For the past 12 years, the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Auxiliary Board has put on one of Chicago’s most buzz-worthy singles event, Summer Lovin’. But the evening isn’t just about great food and conversation—it raises major money for medical research.

The event started with 300 people as a “beer and brats” party at Northwestern’s law school courtyard downtown. But the following year, after it scored a partnership with Chicago magazine, the event expanded. For the past five years, it has garnered more than 1,000 people and several restaurant sponsorships and is held at the Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition, the editorial group from Chicago magazine picks the hottest 20 singles for its June/July issue; this year, a doctor and Northwestern board member were highlighted.

The goal for the board is to raise $100,000 in a two-year period. This money is given to a doctor who wants to do specific medical research. The majority of the $100,000 is from Summer Lovin’, but the board does host another event in the fall, along with a few third-party events that might pop up.

More than 40 doctors submit their proposals to the board (a representative from Northwestern Memorial Hospital helps the board sift through the applications and doctor-lingo). The $100,000 from the board is “seed money” for the doctor, and its purpose is to help the doctor generate more money and bigger grants for research.

This year, the board is supporting Dr. Andrew Naidech, who wants to research new therapies for stroke patients. The board gave him $50,000 last November and will give him the additional money this year. He’s been actively applying and receiving other grants for his research.

“For our board, it’s really exciting for us to see how far our dollars can go,” says Laura Beres, board president.

Mixing traditional and social media

The board ranges in age from 24 to 40. To hit its target demographic to market this event, it primarily goes where its audience is: online.

“We’re pretty deliberate about our use of social media,” Beres says. “Social media is the way most people in our age group find out about things. At our board meetings, our PR committee talks to us about how we can help drum up support.”

Here are six ways the board markets the event:

1. Summer Lovin’ has an active Facebook page. “All of our members, with the exception of one, are on Facebook,” Beres says. “They are constantly given mini-updates that they can copy and paste on their own Facebook page, with a link back to ticket purchasing.”

2. The website went through a major redesign this year. “Any time we send out any communication, we link to our website,” Beres says.

3. The Twitter account is active, with more than 100 followers. Frequently, the PR team tweets information about restaurants that are sponsoring the event, and their reps RT those tweets in response.

4. Grass-roots marketing is not forgotten. For example, board members went to a popular Chicago art fair and passed out “save the date” cards. The board also went on bar crawls to talk about the event. “We put ourselves where our audience is,” Beres says.

5. Traditional media still counts. Even though Chicago wrote a feature article about the event, there was also a full-page ad in the RedEye, an alternative daily tabloid. There will also be stories about the event on radio stations, Windy City Live, and a few other news outlets. “The week before the event gets a lot of press,” Beres says.

6. Partnering with other young organizations has been successful. For example, the team gives away a few tickets to staff at Chicago Sports and Social. In return, this group emails Summer Lovin’ info—twice—to its list of 20,000 recipients. “If two tickets are a $170 value, even if only two people buy from it, we’ll have broken even.”

To track which method works best, people are asked online how they heard about the event when they buy their tickets. Currently, it’s too early to track where people have heard about it this year, but traditionally, the majority of people say they heard about it from another board member or a strategic partnership, Beres says.

Ultimately, what does Beres thinks makes this event so successful?

“It’s for a great cause, most importantly,” Beres says, “but we’re combining the best things about Chicago—our philanthropic community, talented young singles, and our great restaurants.”

Interested in seeing what it’s all about? Purchase your ticket for tomorrow’s event here.

Networking 101: 5 tips for millennials

By Jessica Levco

Networking can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. But don’t fear—the Millennial Mafia is here to help!

Recently, Ragan Communications and The Playground Theatre joined together for a night of networking, improv and booze. We thought we’d share a few tips from what we learned.

Don’t mingle with other millennials. Save your conversations about Rebecca Black and your iPad 2 for a Friday night with your old college buddies. Now is the time to branch out of your generational comfort zone and talk to people who’ve been in the biz longer than you have. Hey, you might just learn something.

Have a drink, but don’t turn into a Lindsay Lohan. It’s perfectly acceptable to introduce yourself to people with a glass of Chardonnay in your hand. But save your hard-core drinking for the after-after party. Nobody likes a sloppy networker.

Start a conversation. Avoid this opening line: “Hi, my name is so-and-so and I work for ABC company and do XYZ.” That’s a rookie move. Allow the conversation to develop naturally. For starters, why not ask, “How did you hear about tonight’s event?”

Know what you do. When someone asks you what you do, be prepared. Say at least two to three sentences about your job responsibilities. Give the listener the highlights—nobody really likes talking about work, anyway.

Follow up. Assuming you followed rule No. 2, you should be sober enough to compose a quick email or a DM to the people you met. Everybody likes to be remembered.

Ragan and The Playground will be teaming up again for another night like this in the near future. We hope you’ll join us—and remember, bring your business card.

PS: Have you seen Episode 2 from the Millennial Mafia? In this one, we teach Boomer Bill an Internet safety lesson. Some describe it as “homo-erotic.” We describe it as “funny.”