6 Things To Do at a Networking Event

Social Samosa recently held their second Bangalore meetup at News Cafe, Indiranagar. As this was the first #SSMeetUp I attended, I was unsure of what to expect in terms of a crowd, but was pleasantly surprised at the fun we had there.

Image courtesy: Social Samosa's Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=551036088338567&set=a.135770493198464.26492.116422695133244&type=1&theater

Image courtesy: Social Samosa’s Facebook page

 

An event like this can attract a host of different professionals that you would benefit from connecting with. Agency people, freelancers, or just a few friends – you’re guaranteed to run into someone who can make your evening a success.

But what are a few things you can do to ensure that YOU make your evening a success?

a. Locate people you have never met in person: So you’re a Twitter guru who’s found like-minded people online. Or you’ve been freelancing for someone you’ve met over LinkedIn. Or maybe you just want to know what the social media industry is all about, and you’ve found a couple of interesting bloggers who you follow.

Now is the time you put faces to names.

Get in touch with the people you know as online entities and tell them you would like to meet in person. Follow up with them when you reach the event. More often than not, it is simple to slip into  conversation with someone you know something about.

b. Get “carded”: While working the room, you’re bound to meet people who you connect with, either on a personal note, or a professional one. Make sure you get their contact details – it’s just much easier to get a card. If you think you may forget who is whom, don’t hesitate to scribble a couple of pointers on their card, to remind you of who is whom.

c. Explain yourself: Rehearse a variant of an elevator pitch before you attend the event (to know more about an elevator pitch, you can view my simple presentation on Prezi HERE) Just a few lines on who you are and what you do is enough.

Make sure to include the important points like what you are looking for. Try to leave out unnecessary details like what your cat’s name is. The person you meet should be able to grasp a quick idea of what exactly it is you stand for, and do for a living, and most importantly, how you could be of benefit to each other.

d. Identify your crowd: If you’ve just reached and are sipping your drink pensively in the corner before you can work up the courage to get started, use that time wisely. Observe the different groups around you. Don’t dismiss the quiet ones. Figure out who is client, agency, freelancer, or just there to have a good time – and then, move in.

e. Get personal: People may remember you as “the writer with 3 years of work experience”. But why risk that when they could remember you as yourself?

Remember, you have a good chance of working with almost everyone who is currently in that room. Even if you aren’t directly working with them now, they may be someone you could work with in the future. Remembering little things about them doesn’t take up much memory, and ask questions.

f. Keep in touch: The best way to make sure people don’t just vaguely think of you, is to connect with them once the event is over. Just a simple “was nice to connect with you” on Twitter or LinkedIn does the trick. Not only will this help you build contacts, you can count them among your resources for any future plans.

At the end of the day, all it takes is a little bit of networking magic to make sure your dreams take off.

 

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It’s an international call… From Globcom!

This is an article that appeared (edited) in the Commits Chronicle Blog run by my Journalism teacher Mr. Ramesh Prabhu, who is an experienced international journalist. Please note: as this was for the college blog, it tends to run a little long. To view the edited article on the CCB, CLICK HERE. The following is the original article in its entirety:

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It was a bright day in February when Sai sir came to our class and announced the event that we, the MMCs were awaiting with bated breath – Globcom 2014! As soon as he left the class, we couldn’t contain our excitement anymore, and started excitedly discussing who would be signing up.

For the uninitiated, Globcom is a yearly multi-cultural global PR communications project. Which means that we would get to work with team members from across the globe, over various time zones, all on an exciting PR project for a client who was a big industry name! This year, our project was for the prestigious Carl Zeiss who wanted us to present a proposal on “Better Vision for a Better Future” – their plan to introduce $1 glasses mainly in India, but also with a global focus.

Commits has, in the past, participated in Globcom and won great accolades. In fact, twice the students had even managed to travel to Abu Dhabi to attend the conference, a luxury which subsequent batches including ours could not afford as the second semester exams invariably clashed with the dates of the international conference in Boston from May 29 to June 1. (We were all very disappointed to hear about this).

 

Read more…

College – a lesson in personal rebranding

Why does any entity need rebranding? In my case, it was a changing market.

I have worked for more than five years in communication. In those five-plus years, each consecutive job has brought something new to the table. Long story short, I’m pretty damn proud of my career. Still, going back to college full-time was not a decision I had to think twice about.

But it did bring up my most difficult challenge yet – rebranding myself. I was sure of who I was – but was my target audience?

Rebranding to fit in with a younger crowd isn’t a new strategy. After all, even the Old Spice man (side note: hubba hubba!) did it. So in a market filled with a better, faster and stronger crowd of younger people, what makes your personal brand any less susceptible to being outdated? And are there any benefits to being like the “new” Old Spice?

If I have to validate that with a ‘yes’ then you haven’t been listening. Rebranding isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. Now I’m not saying you need to hire out those 15-second TV spots, and pay for all the hoardings on the roadside to get your rebranding message out loud and clear. No, the goal of this exercise is to simply make your target market understand that you can give them what they need – and this needs to be in sync with their changing desires.

So what has going back to college taught me about personal rebranding?

1. Think of tomorrow’s customers: While it is a given that you need to target existing customers (which in my case would translate to IT companies looking for freelancers), you can’t ignore tomorrow’s customers. Anticipate their growth curve and understand what it is they will be looking for, even as technology changes and communication strategies take on new perspectives. After all, today’s classmates will be tomorrow’s business partners. Make sure these potential customers understand from the start that you are capable of handling their business.

2. Keep things simple, but don’t dumb them down: Simplify your communication so that your message gets across loud and clear. But, and this is important, make sure you do not dumb down what you bring to the table. You don’t want your customers getting the wrong idea and thinking that what you do is really really simple. Take your customer ninety percent of the way with your great communication. Make them work for that ten percent, when it comes to understanding what you do or considering a potential partnership. Ensure that you look like the expert you are without seeming overbearing or under-qualified.

 3. Make sure you can stick it out in the long run: This is for all the big talkers out there. Claiming something is easy. Being able to deliver is not. And in the long run, it shows. Since rebranding is by definition an exercise where you are trying to improve on an existing brand image, go the whole hog and only promise what you can deliver over a larger time period, something that will work out by increasing your personal brand integrity.

4. Be pushy: Bullying your customers is a big no-no. But there’s something to be said for being pushy, in a good way. Understand what your audience wants, find how you can contribute to their goal, and push them to do it. Not only will you be selling yourself, but your customers will feel like your push gave them that ‘little bit extra’ they needed to achieve their personal goals.

5. Bonus – Deliver with integrity: Be a decent competitor and you needn’t don’t worry about getting ahead – a little something I learned from a older and highly successful friend of mine. I originally thought he was naive for having ethics, but the truth is he won every last competition there was and achieved every medal with honor. It is easy to undercut your customers to get to where you want. The downside is that you may not last there for very long. Edelman’s trust barometer® survey shows that nearly three-quarters of customers will actively avoid doing business with a company they don’t trust, while 85 percent will go out of their way to buy from a company they trust. That applies to personal brand image too.

Have there been instances in your life when you have needed to rebrand? What steps have you taken? Has it helped you professionally as well as personally? I’d love to know.