Attire Accessories -Jul/Aug 2018 (Issue 71)

116 ATTIRE PR expert, Michael O’Connor, explains how networking can help to grow your business Networking is one of the most important aspects of running a business. There are many events run by associations like the Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, as well as those taking place at independent retailers, and these occasions are a great place to meet people who will help you to grow your own enterprise. For many people, the idea of connecting can be very intimidating. There will be lots of strong personalities attending, and if you’re a little more reserved, going up and talking to someone you don’t know can be hard. If you want to build your network and gain valuable relationships, however, you’re going to have to break the ice. It can be tough to meet someone new and make small talk. The idea of holding a conversation with someone you don’t know can be downright scary, but that’s what networking is all about. Simply put, you have to know how to hold a decent conversation. The PR industry is all about finding new contacts and building relationships. Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up over the years. Research key attendees before the event If there are individuals you’re hoping to meet and impress at your next session, do some pre- meeting research online. Scope out people’s LinkedIn profiles to learn the basics about them and look for common connections. Prepare your elevator pitch There’s nothing worse than being asked the question, ‘What do you do?’ and suddenly coming up blank. The idea of a traditional elevator pitch is a bit outdated, but the underlying strategy is still a good one: come up with a few sentences you can use to accurately describe yourself and your business. Being an effective networker means going into events with purpose and a plan. It also means being 100 per cent committed to connecting authentically with those around you. It’s not exactly rocket science, but a little bit of preparation before your next event could be what sets you apart from the pack. Bring business cards and other supplementary information This is a no-brainer, but it’s good to have a reminder. Depending on the type of event, you may also want to bring pamphlets or other supplementary materials to hand out. Don’t hide in the corner First things first, you can’t be a good networker if you’re shying away from the action. Even if The power of NETWORKING