While reading an article in the Wall Street Journal Sunday edition called Ten Job-Networking Tips, it struck me how the tips also made great sense for Company Networking. Maintaining good personal network is done so for the purpose of finding a job. Company networking helps build a brand and creating awareness and/or interest in your company.
Company networking is different than traditional public relations, or even traditional sales and marketing, although a great PR, marketing and/or sales person use company networking tactics to get their desired results. So let’s take a look at the ten job-networking tips, as written in the WSJ Sunday Edition, but then apply them to company networking:
- Prepare an elevator speech. Every employee at your company plays a role in sales. When an employee leaves work and goes to the health club, attends a neighborhood party, visits with family, etc., they talk about their job, their company and their company’s products. Marketing should always proactively communicate the company’s boilerplate “About Us” to all employees.
- Use your existing ties. When you have a new product launch, tell people about it. I remember meeting an employee from www.Plantronics.com at a holiday recital and when I asked where she worked, she told me about the company’s great headsets. Inspired by the conversation, two days later I went to Office Max and purchased a Plantronic headset. Since then, I’ve purchased numerous headsets for other staff members at my company.
- Target trade groups. It’s a given that your company belongs to and exhibits at the major events in your industry. But what about local industry groups or professional associations in your industry. Get involved and promote your company.
- Show interest in others. Anyone who has read Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, understands that focusing on youself turns people off. Instead, take an interest in other people – even if they contribute nothing to your success. In some strange and not so direct way it will help you.
- Don't ask for a job. Don’t ask for the sale. The Plantronics person didn’t – she was just genuinely passionate about her company and it sold me.
- Build relationships. So you have a nice talk with a guy you met at a trade show but he doesn’t represent an immediate sale or partnership. What do you do? Send them a nice follow-up email. People remember little things like this and it reflects positively on your company.
- Don't be selfish. Remember networking is a two-way street. Someone calls you and you determine there is no opportunity for a sale or partnership. Maybe there too small. So refer them to someone who can help. A rule at our company is never leave any sales prospect hanging. Remember the movie “Miracle on 42nd Street” when Kris Kringle sent customers to Gimbel’s because they didn’t find what they needed at Macy’s.
- Don't abuse relationships. Do you have clients you continuously use as a reference? Do they know how much you appreciate this? Find a way to reward them and show them you are appreciative.
- Follow through. Remember thank you notes or when people actually followed through on their commitments? Be responsive and always deliver on your promises. If you tell someone you’ll get back to them Tuesday, then do it. And because the bar has been lowered with respect to business etiquette, by just doing the basics you can rise above the competition.
- Maintain your network. Keep track of the last time you spoke to someone. If it’s been six months, call and catch up with that person. Remember personal things about people and put them in your contact notes. David Rockefeller, the former CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank, understood the value of maintaining a network and how doing so helped you learn what’s going on. In fact, Mr. Rockefeller’s famed “Rolodex” exceeds 100,000 names and when he travels, you can be sure he calls a few people in that respective city to “get together” with him.