From “PR Rules: The Playbook—The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Supersizing Your Small Business.” Available in April 2014
By Hope Katz Gibbs, with Kathleen McCarthy
PR Rules: The Playbook
What it is:
- Networking at its best is “PR on the ground.” It’s the opportunity to come into contact with potential customers who want to meet you and hear about what you do—and how you can work together. This is Networking Nirvana.
- It’s a place to showcase your services and put a face on your business.
- Great networking events also give you the opportunity to find potential suppliers and employees that you’ll need as you build your business.
What it’s not:
- Networking events are not a time to over-imbibe, troll for sex, scarf up a free meal—or bring anything but your A-game to the party.
- It’s not a sure-fire to build your business—because there are plenty of events you’ll attend that don’t draw your ideal customers, leaving you feeling like you just wasted your time.
- Cheap. While some events are free, many cost $50 or more to attend. If you plan on joining several organizations and attending several networking events each month, be sure to calculate the return on investment.
Why it’s important:
- It gets you out of your office. Networking is an essential way to spread the word about what you do. And meeting someone in person is a surefire way to know if you can work together.
- It gets you out of your comfort zone. Network in places where you feel comfortable. If golf is your passion, bring some business associates out for a game. It’s not a novel idea, but doing this well takes some finesse. “If you’re not close friends with your boss, then a game of golf could be a daunting prospect,” says John Byrne, golf pro and master networker at Into the Rough, an online source for info on golf, particularly in the United Kingdom. If golf isn’t your bag, try bowling, attending a sporting event, or going to a show.
- It helps you put your best face forward. Recognize that professional networking opportunities can happen anywhere in day-to-day life—at the grocery store, on a plane, hailing a cab, or on a subway. When you start to be aware of that possibility, you’ll find yourself surrounded by potential resources, collaborators, and customers. Start paying attention.