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Networking and events? All part of your PR!
10 Mar 2023
by Freya Morris

At one time or another in business it’s likely you’ll be invited to a networking group, business event, or for a one-to-one coffee with a business connection - but why are these so important for your business?

Keep reading and you’ll find out…

What are the benefits of networking?

Regardless of whether you’re part of a local networking group, or prefer to invite your LinkedIn business connections for a bite to eat, there are so many opportunities to form relationships with others in the business community. 

But what is the purpose of networking? To form relationships with businesses and individuals who may be interested in what you have to say, or what you have on offer but also for you to help them and their business. People buy into people - we’ve heard it so many times and it is true! You won’t want to do business with someone you don’t like - yes personality matters!

A good relationship also helps form and strengthen the reputation of your business.

Just like your business will suffer if you’re not creating content, it will also suffer if you’re not forming meaningful connections.

You never know, your networking could be the very thing that pushes your business to the forefront of your connection's mind when it comes to purchasing the very thing you have on offer!

Whilst your connections may be limited to a relationship with a website or social post when considering your competitors, they can picture a real, three-dimensional person when thinking about your business. And as we say we all know how much people love to buy from people… real, genuine people.

The idea of doing a “60-seconds” makes me nervous…

Everyone remembers their first round of 60-second introductions, where everyone takes turns to introduce themselves and give a brief insight into what their business is, and does. 

Unfortunately, most people mainly remember how nervous they felt in the lead-up to their turn - and that’s okay!

The prospect of standing up and speaking to a room full of strangers for an entire minute can seem daunting, putting many people off going, but it is an opportunity to offer a short snippet of who you are, what you do, and how you can meet the needs of the customers or clients you are looking for.

And remember don’t force your business cards into the hands of everyone you meet - you might just run out by the time the person who really wants one asks you for one!

It’s just a tick-box exercise, right?

Networking with other businesses provides a variety of opportunities, but there’s a very fine line between forming positive connections and affecting your business' long-term reputation, and that’s exactly why you should consider it as part of your PR strategy.

Our top tip? Think about what you’re saying, and the connotations those listening to you may form about your business should you say the wrong thing. This can include:

  • Inappropriate comments
  • Using language others may find offensive
  • Coming across as unprofessional
  • Using the wrong tone of voice
  • Seeming ingenuine and only out to make money

This can also include the way you present yourself, and the clothes you wear. After all, nobody wants to do business with someone who turns up with toothpaste down their top and an expression suggesting they don’t want to be there…

Networking at events

Going to events to network is just as important as joining smaller groups, or meeting connections one-on-one. The only difference is your pool of people is a lot bigger, which can be beneficial whilst also making your job that bit harder.

Larger crowds mean more opportunities for you to meet people who might be interested in you and what you have to offer. Unfortunately, this usually also means it can be more difficult to find those people because there are more people in the room in general. Needle in a haystack comes to mind!

What should I wear?

In-person networking is the perfect opportunity to strengthen your brand image by donning a branded jumper, a power suit, or a gilet with your logo on. Remember to wear something suitable for the event but also reflective of your business - if you’re representing an agricultural business, you may not need to wear a three-piece suit and tie! At agricultural shows you will find Team J&PR donning the all important wellies! 

Just like repeatedly watching an advert can bring a brand to the forefront of a person's mind, seeing the same branding or logo each week will park your business right at the top of your fellow networker’s thoughts.

Don’t worry if your networking session is taking place in the online world, you can still strengthen your brand image by uploading a virtual background featuring your logo and brand colours. 

One last piece of advice…

Remember do not expect results straight away. You wouldn’t expect someone to propose after meeting them for the first time, just as you wouldn’t expect someone to invest money in what you’re offering after just one meeting.

Networking, like everything else when it comes to public relations, is about building trust and relationships so people feel they are making an informed, trusted decision when choosing to use your company. Results may take some time, but they will be worth it!

I need a helping hand…

If you’ve taken everything we’ve said on board but are still unsure as to how you can make the most out of the networking opportunities presented to you, don’t worry! Our team is more than happy to speak to you about utilising the power of networking to enhance your reputation - we are a PR agency after all!

Shropshire Chamber of Commerce is a great place to start your networking journey. We are also affiliated trainers at Shropshire Chamber so we can offer you a helping hand with your PR and social media or your blogging and case studies at our courses - find out when the next ones are here.

Or simply give us a call on 01952 951264 to get a date in the diary for a good old fashioned brew!