The best networking is a dialog that establishes rapport and builds relationships.
Networking Made Easy
Networking is an important part of professional growth and is essential to business development. It offers opportunities to:
Present yourself as a professional to your peers and clients
Be your company’s ambassador
Learn more about your clientele, allies and competitors
Gain knowledge about potential opportunities and trends
Expand awareness on topics that you and your firm consider to be worthwhile
Discover new contacts and information serendipitously
Many people think about networking as a type of one-way communication: getting your message out there. However, the best networking is a dialog that establishes rapport and builds relationships. Like any skill, a little practice and forethought goes a long way to making networking enjoyable and productive.
Think about what are the most important things about your company and you personally to convey to the people you will be meeting. This is likely to change according to the event you are attending and the people you will be meeting.
Many people rely on an “elevator speech”, several sentences about them and their company that they have memorized. An elevator speech should not be considered unchangeable. When you adapt your speech for the context, your messaging has more power. Better still, when you truly understand the attributes of your messaging you can speak naturally and from a knowledgeable perspective.
Messaging Building Blocks
Craft your primary messaging to your audience, taking into consideration your listener’s knowledge of you, your company and your profession. Use language and messages that are appropriate to their knowledge level. Keep things short and focused, acknowledging the limits to people’s attention span. Typically you include:
What you and the firm do and why it’s important: The first thing you say is the message your listener is most likely to remember! If you will be in a group of industry colleagues, take some time to think about how to differentiate your company from your competitors.
A little about your role in the firm
Substantiate your claims by giving more information to confirm your stature:
Number and location of offices
Awards, areas of research, etc.: avoid boasting
Range of projects: if you have more than one studio or office, this should represent all of the firm, not just your own group
Size of projects
What you talk about should be “forward-pointing.” Focus on information that takes you to where the firm wants to be in five years. For instance, if you are interested in doing more highrise buildings, bring these up in conversation.
Networking is not just about you and your firm. Be curious about your listener and ask them questions. Practice the Golden Rule and ask them what you would like to be asked. If you have a chance to be helpful even if there’s no immediate payback to you, you should consider acting on that impulse. Good intentions usually reward you, and can at a minimum increase a person’s respect for you and your firm.