The New SMS – Social Media Strategy

Social Media StrategyFollowing on from my last post the A-Z of Business Social Media, I’ve had some feedback that whilst the A-Z was really useful, for people who are new to social media, particularly in a business sense, they don’t know where to start and how to get the most out of their limited resources, time and money.

So, with that in mind, this post will focus on how to build your social media strategy and where to focus your energy and money.

Your social media strategy needs to be tailored to what your organisation does, who your customers, or potential customers, are and what you are aiming to achieve. I’ll walk you through a framework of questions you need to ask yourself and give you some pointers as to where to get started in a cost-effective way.

Explore

Before you start to build your strategy, it’s a good idea to explore social media channels to determine which will be the most appropriate for your organisation. The A-Z of Business Social Media mentions a number of sites you can check out as well as a few more in this post you may want to think about.

Create a personal account on a few of the most pertinent to your particular business or organisation and explore what people are saying and how they are interacting with each other. As a starting point, whatever your organisation does, I would suggest LinkedIn and Twitter as a minimum if you’re not already using them. Once you’ve spent a bit of time browsing around and becoming familiar with the social world, you’ll be better placed to start thinking about how you can use it to the best effect for your organisation.

Goals and Objectives

What are you trying to achieve from your social media activity? This is a really important question you should ask yourself before putting finger to keyboard. I’ve made a short list below, but it’s by no means exhaustive. You may answer yes to more than one:

Do you want:

Increased brand presence across social channels?

Increased positive sentiment about your brand?

Development of relationships for future partnership opportunities?

Increased traffic to your website?

Improved customer service?

Increased sales leads?

To improve your personal or organisational profile?

Build your network of contacts?

To be perceived as a ‘Thought Leader’ in a segment, market or technology?

Depending on your answers above, you will need to tailor your strategy and focus accordingly.

Social Footprint

Unless you’re a start-up business, chances are that your organisation will already have a Social Footprint. How come?

Your customers, suppliers, employees and the media may already be talking about you online.

Type your organisation’s name into Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook and you’ll be surprised at who’s being saying what about you.

This is useful for a number of reasons. You’ll be able to;

  1. Determine whether you have a footprint or not and the size of it.
  2. Understand the sentiment towards your organisation – good, bad or indifferent.
  3. Discover whether your target audience is present and engaging in dialogue about you and importantly where.
  4. Find out if you have employees that are advocates or disparaging your brand.

There are a number of tools that can help you do this for free:

Twilert: A great and simple tool to consolidate and keep up with the Tweets on your brand. This tool will email you whenever there are Tweets regarding your brand name and/or other search terms you set up for your convenience.

Kurrently not only searches Twitter for mentions regarding your brand or other search term, but also checks out Facebook and Google+ so you are even more up to date on what’s being said regarding your brand.

Topsy indexes and ranks search results based upon the most influential conversations people are having every day about each specific term, topic, page or domain queried. Therefore you know whether a specific mention has been influential or not, and what type of positive or negative effect it may or may not have.

There are organisations that can carry out this work on your behalf, but would recommend you have a try yourself first.

Analyse Your Social Space

Analyse what people are talking about in your industry – about you, about your competitors, the marketplace, trends, news and reviews.

Who are the most influential brands and individuals in your space? Who are the key social influencers – are they individual thought leaders, news organisations, journalists, politicians, consultancy firms, bloggers or even customers?

You do need to know this, as networking online is as hard, time-consuming and as important as offline networking, if you feel that social media is an important part of your marketing mix.

Once you’ve done some detailed analysis, you understand what you want from Social Media, and you know where your target audience spenda their time and how they interact, you can decide on which social media platforms you invest your time and effort and in what ways.

Choose your Channels and Content

Whatever channels and tools you decide to use you will need to have some content. The richer the channels the more the content you will need. Of course you will hope to reach a stage where the conversation and interaction you achieve will form part of the content. But be under no illusions, tweeting, blogging, sharing, casting, whatever you do will take content and you need to find it. So, review your existing content, and consider where more might come from. What format will you need? Can you subcontract its generation?

It is important to recognise that in a social media context sharing and drawing on others’ material is all part of the inclusive behaviour you need to adopt. If you are tweeting be sure to re-tweet other material that is useful, and spend time responding to others’ posts. Social media is not about one-way broadcasting, it is about conversation and acknowledging and contributing to others’ work. It is part of the deal, and it helps get you noticed as well. So consider your mix of self-generated,  found  material  and  commenting  activity  you  will  use  to  create  content  and engagement.

Define metrics and benchmarks

The most important part of developing your strategy is determining how you are going to measure your success. These should be revisited regularly to ensure you’re measuring the right things, doing the right things, and having the desired effect. I’ve listed some examples below:

If your business goal is to … Then you should measure… Followed by measuring
Generate leads Number of leads generated through social media Sales
Increase customer satisfaction Positive sentiment around your company and brand Customer Satisfaction
Lower customer service costs Number of incidents resolved through social media Headcount Costs
Improve product / service quality Feedback +ve / -ve about your products / services Returns / Complaints
Improve your brand’s awareness Number of product-related issues posted. Brand Awareness

Create and publish content

Publishing content, and regularly, is crucial to any organisation wishing to grow their online brand.

Whichever social platforms you have chosen to engage your audience, it’s important that you’re visible at the right time, with current information and engage in the right way.

Think 70:20:10

70 percent of content should focus on your customers’ interests and needs. This can be accomplished through how-to tips, answers to frequently asked questions, and links to helpful resources. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – “Would I find this content helpful?” If the answer is yes, then go for it.

20 percent of content should be other people’s content. That means a willingness on your part to allow user-generated content on social channels you manage, such as a Facebook page. This gives your customers a sense of ownership in the conversation and serves to foster trust.

10 percent of content should be promotional. If you are willing to focus 90 percent of your content on others, then, hopefully, no one will complain when 10 percent of it calls attention to your products and services.

Think about timing when you publish your content. As an example, if your target audience is the UK, US and India, 12.30 GMT is a good time to post (start of day in US, lunch in UK and evening in India). If you’re targeting a youth audience 1600-1800 during the week and at weekends is a good time. If you have a mixed audience, you may wish to tailor the message to the audience and post the same product or service at differing times with subtly different content and calls to action.

Engage in Conversations and Help Others

It’s not enough to push out content – Social media is not just another marketing channel you can use to reach your target audience.   The biggest mistake companies and brands make is to use social media as a way to just sell a product. Content should be created with a view to inspiring and participating in conversations.  Social media is about a two-way flow of conversation. People are no longer willing to be passive bystanders – they want to take an active part of the conversation. Think about the kinds of topics and interests that your audience have and engage with them on those topics too. It shouldn’t all be about you!

Followers, ‘Likes’ and traffic are good, but are people engaging with you?  93% of the Internet users active in social media say they expect a company to have a social media presence and to be able to actively engage with that company. 93%! [Forrester]

The key to success with social media is to keep your eye on where your target audience are talking, what they’re saying and more importantly what they’re saying about you. Track these things, adapt accordingly and engage positively and you’ll do better than most!

I hope you enjoyed this post and I look forward to hearing your views and comments as always. Until next time…

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The Brand New, Brand You! ~ Part 4

Elevator PitchIn the fourth part in the series of The Brand New, Brand You, I will be covering the third step in the START process – Articulate.

Brand You is who you already are, whether you are consciously aware of it or not. Brand New, Brand You is about building a name for yourself based on what you have achieved and what you want to achieve and what differentiates you from others. It essentially is your reputation. The benefits you offer to others; your value proposition and your return on investment to prospective employers. And it must be consistent throughout your communications and how you Articulate yourself.

The key to Articulate is how you establish yourself as an expert in your field and is one of the most essential ways to brand yourself. It builds credibility and demonstrates your achievements and proven abilities through various venues, such as by writing articles published in trade journals, giving speeches at conferences and conventions, being quoted by the news media, and the like.

In this post I’m going to focus on a few key areas, namely Your Elevator Pitch, Telephone and Face to Face Interviews and Your Online Presence.

The Elevator Pitch

You’re in an elevator, a corridor or at a party and the CEO of the firm you’ve always wanted to work for, is standing next to you. What do you say?

Elevator pitches are developed to relay just enough information to cause the person you’re speaking to, to ask, “Tell me more.” If you’re lucky, the CEO will say, “If you have a few minutes, I want to hear more.” If you’re even luckier, your prospective boss will ask you to set up an appointment the next day to meet up. All of that from the development, memorising, and tweaking of a few simple yet incredibly powerful words.

Putting your pitch together

1. Who are you? Introduce yourself and your credentials up front. There’s no point in saying anything if the listener has no idea who you are or if you have any credibility.

2. What’s your objective? Get to the point quickly about what you are looking for or how that person can help. Being direct not only grabs attention but helps the listener to put your pitch into context. 

3. What can you do for the listener? This is where you explain how recruiting you will meet their need. Your goals and dreams are all well and good but remember in the end what you are offering must benefit them. This is your chance to communicate what makes you someone who your audience should consider helping.  People typically like to help those that they feel will be successful in the process.  There are a few things you should think about when highlighting your qualifications:- industry relevance, leadership, expertise, pedigree, and impact.

4. The close – this is tricky to deliver effectively, but ideally you need an outcome to the conversation. This could be a follow-up meeting with the person you’re pitching to, a name of someone who you need to contact to follow-up, or some advice as to how to reach your goal.

Once you have your personal elevator pitch, practice it in front of the mirror. If possible, try to video or audio tape yourself, and watch it in fast forward. You’ll be amazed at your nervous habits!

Even though you’ve prepared and practiced, keep it natural.

Articulating Brand New, Brand YouInterviews

Arguably one of the most important times to articulate Brand You, is at interview. You’ve got through the CV shortlisting stage, but now you have to impress. More often than not you will have to face a telephone interview before you get to meet a prospective employer face to face.

The Telephone Interview

Eighty percent of human communication is body language—eye contact, facial expressions, the way you move your hands, your behaviours, the way you sit or stand, and all of this is missing during the telephone conversation. However, you still have three powerful ways to get Brand You across:

Tone:  Your passion, energy level and pronunciation.

Content:  Your expertise and depth of experience.

Quality: Your choice of words and your ability to demonstrate a solid, consistent thought process.

Before the Interview:

  • If you haven’t already, research the company and the position. Visit the company website and review news releases and other public information about the company, including quarterly and annual reports. Learn about any new product releases, any awards or special recognition received by the company. Find out about the structure of the organization, its products or services and the markets it serves. You would be amazed at the number of candidates I’ve interviewed over the years that miss this crucial step. I’ve actually terminated interviews at the point I discover that they have not bothered to prepare.
  • Make sure that you know who you will be speaking with and can check for that person’s LinkedIn profile and you should also “Google” them to learn more information.
  • Revisit the job description and the person specification for the role. Make a special effort to identify any areas where your skills and experience may be of particular value.
  • Prepare a list of your achievements pertaining to the job description. Specify and quantify your accomplishments, e.g. ‘increased sales by x%’ or ‘reduced costs by y%’. Keep this list in front of you during the interview for you to refer to.
  • Make a note of any key questions that you wish to ask.
  • Make sure that you have a copy of your CV with you and ensure you have a pen and notepad to hand.

The Interview:

Ensure that you will be somewhere quiet for the interview itself and that you will not be interrupted.

If you have been asked to call at a specific time, ensure that you call at precisely the correct time. If you can’t get through, leave a message if you can and also call a secretary/receptionist to show that you called at the right time. Ask when the manager is expected to be free, and try again then. Repeat the same procedure until you make contact. If you have been told that the hiring manager will call you – do not expect the same rules to apply. They will call you when they want to!

  • Sound interesting/interested, energetic and enthusiastic.
  • Try smiling while you are talking. Studies have shown that this has a positive effect on the person who is listening. It is also a good idea to stand during a telephone interview as this makes you sound more confident and helps project a positive and professional image.
  • Be polite and don’t swear or use colloquialisms.
  • Try not to use jargon if at all possible, unless the interviewer introduces it into the conversation.
  • Use the other person’s name regularly throughout the conversation (but not all the time). Also, use the company name a few times.
  • Be succinct. For most questions a 2-3 minute answer is a good target. Time is always an issue with telephone interviews and you’re wasting your own time if you stray off the subject.
  • Be a good listener. If you do not hear or understand what was said, do not hesitate to ask that it be repeated. Do not make up answers to questions you think you have heard.
  • Do not bring up salary, holiday entitlements and benefits at this stage.
  • Have powerful questions written down that you can ask when provided the chance.
  • Use strong, positive phrases, such as “I know,” and avoid weak phrases such as “I think.”
  • Never speak negatively of anyone or anything—a former manager, colleague or company.
  • Emphasise why you want to go to work for the company you are interviewing with and NOT why you want to leave your current employer.
  • Do not try to evade any question. If you don’t know the answer to any particular question, say so, and then say you’ll get the answer and call back.
  • If something doesn’t sound good to you, take note of it. Do NOT confront the interviewer at this stage.
  • “Close” at the end of the interview. You might use:  “I really appreciate your time today, and I am genuinely excited about and interested in this opportunity. Based upon our conversation, is there anything that will keep us from moving to the next step?”

After the Interview:

A post interview thank you letter or email is an excellent way of re-impressing your qualities and abilities on the mind of the interviewer. It may also separate you from others interviewed, and will tell your prospective employer that you are courteous and professional.

The Face to Face Interview

Before the Interview

Repeat the same steps as for the telephone interview. Depending on the gap between the telephone interview and the face to face interview, there may well have been recent activity within the organisation that you need to be aware of.

Ensure that you are dressed neatly and professionally. Doing so will immediately create an air of quiet confidence that will be evident in how the interviewer responds to you.

Get plenty of rest the night before. Many job seekers are so nervous they find it hard to sleep and wind up pacing the floor half the night, only to be exhausted by the time they get to the interview.

Ensure that you get to the interview venue in good time. Leave yourself enough time for traffic problems or any other eventuality that would delay you being on time. I would suggest arriving 15 minutes early, giving you time to relax once you’re there, and it creates a good impression.

The Interview:

Be ready to make a good first impression right away. Look your interviewer(s) in the eye and smile warmly. Be ready with a friendly greeting, and offer your hand to shake. You’ll score points immediately by getting this right – a clammy limp handshake is not good, but a bone crushing vice-like grip is equally as bad. If you’re not sure about your handshake ‘quality’, ask someone you trust to give you feedback – it is important!

During the interview itself, try to be natural. Don’t use the time the interviewer is talking to you to prepare your next answer – if you haven’t been listening attentively, it will be blindingly obvious. Punctuate any long speeches by your interviewer with very slight nods of the head – particularly the ‘let me tell you a little about what we do here …’ speech. The interviewer knows this by heart, and so is far more interested in your reaction to it. If you are being interviewed by more than one person, switch your attention periodically. It’s good practice to address your remarks to one interviewer only if he or she has just asked you a direct question, but don’t turn your back on the rest.

Be confident, you’re the expert of Brand You! Nobody knows you better than yourself, and you this is your opportunity to Articulate your passion, your value proposition and why you are the best candidate for the role.  

I’ve listed some generic questions below that I often use with candidates that may help you prepare; obviously you’ll get specific role-related competency based questions about the role you’ve applied for.

  • Tell me about yourself and your career?
  • Why do you want the job and why do you want to leave your existing one (if applicable)?
  • What can you tell me about this company / department / role?
  • What is the worst feedback you have received?  What was it about?  How did you react?  What did you learn from it?
  • What motivates you? What frustrates you?
  • Assuming I offer you this role, what would be the goals you set yourself for the first 30, 60 and 90 days?
  • What has been your biggest achievement and failure in the last 12 months?
  • What are you most proud of in your professional life?
  • How would your last employer describe you?
  • What strengths would you bring to this role and where would you need some support or development?
  • How do you manage your time / work under pressure?
  • What does success look like for you?
  • How do you deal with conflict?
  • How do you relax outside of work?

The key is to have lots of examples that you can draw out during the interview to demonstrate your skills and experience. Using the same example more than once to answer a question is not ideal. If you can, practice your answers with someone else.

 After the Interview

As with the telephone interview, a thank you letter or email to the person / people who interviewed you is a good idea.

If are offered the job at this stage:

Ask yourself are you genuinely excited about the prospect of working for the company for a fixed term?

  • If ‘yes’ – keenly accept – verbally; await the written offer and reply within a few days.
  • If ‘no’ – explain to the interviewer why you feel you cannot accept it.  Do not wait several weeks before declining – there may be another candidate who genuinely wants the job.  Remember to be civil and polite – at some stage you may want to go for another interview with them.

If you are not offered the job:

  • Review your performance objectively with yourself.
  • What interested the interviewer?
  • How could you improve your presentation next time?
  • Did you get all the points across?
  • Did you interrupt the interviewer at all, or fail to complete any questions?
  • Were you positive, aggressive, tense, too laid back, too talkative or taciturn?
  • What questions were difficult or needed further research?
  • Try to get some feedback from the interviewer(s). Most people are happy to give feedback, so use it as a golden opportunity to develop.

It may be that there a several more hurdles for you following the 1st face to face interview. Many companies now ask shortlisted candidates to complete psychometric tests, medical or physical tests, analytic tasks, skills tests or other tested measures. Some companies will ask you to attend a second or even third face to face interview, depending on the seniority of the role or the rigour of their recruitment process. They may also ask you to deliver a presentation at this stage of the process. Don’t panic…this is all good news. It shows that they’re very interested in Brand You! Ensure you repeat some of the key preparation steps above!

Use the second interview to clarify any of your doubts about the organisation including its training program or location. And use the second visit to work out if you like the people you may be working with. Remember this is a two-way process. They may like you, but what’s your opinion of them? Use this opportunity to meet individuals, view facilities, review company philosophies and ask any additional questions. Do the employees seem happy, bored, overworked? These are people you will have to spend much of your time with so it is best to find out now.

Second interviews are often occasions for you to be introduced to other potential colleagues as well as the manager – and just as much as it’s their mission to find out if they really like you, it’s yours to determine if you can happily share an office or desk with them. If you are lucky enough to be introduced to people who would effectively be your peer group, don’t be afraid to ask them what it’s like to work there. 

 Online BrandYour Online Presence

Depending on your field of expertise, your personal brand values and your career goals, you need to think carefully about your online presence. Over 20% of employers (according to careerbuilder.com) research candidates online and 77% of executive recruiters use search engines to research applicants.

If you type your name into Google, where do you appear and more importantly does that article or link represent Brand You?

Your professional image/headline is already created. It is a matter of taking charge, marketing it and building a solid reputation in your industry. Establishing credibility and visibility in your field is essential in building meaningful relationships and elevating your online presence.

Today’s business climate is too competitive not to create and build your brand and you need to keep pace with your competition. Not only can your online footprint give you that edge you need when someone comes looking for you, but effectively marketing yourself online can actually bring great opportunities to you. There are many success stories of people who’ve been discovered on the web and created viable businesses around their passion.

I’ve already covered LinkedIn and its importance in Part 3, but what other areas should you be thinking about to build your personal brand?

Contribute to industry blogs and forums – a great place to build Brand You is on industry specific blogs and forums. You never know who is reading and where those connections might lead. Comment on popular blogs in your field. Contribute on forums related to your field. Leave links to your LinkedIn account so people can learn more about you.

Start your own blog –A blog is a great to begin building your personal brand. Having your own personal website or blog will not only make it easier for people to find you, it will give you a chance sell Brand You. In order to really connect with people, you should personalise your site in a tasteful and professional manner. Post a picture of yourself and tell your audience who you are and how you got where you are today. What you write should exude confidence, but not come across as boastful. Your web address should contain your name or the name of your company or business, and your website should be appealing to the eye yet simple in design. If you are looking for a new role, be sure to incorporate your CV and a portfolio of your work into your website or blog so that potential employers or clients can view your background and your work. You need to make a great first impression. Because of advancements in technology, many first impressions are formed in the virtual world! I would recommend WordPress. It’s really easy to use, and you can be up and running with a minimal amount of effort and technical know-how!

Not everyone needs to blog (or should) – You don’t need to blog to establish an effective brand online. If you do want to blog without the pressure or time commitment, look for opportunities to guest blog. Remember that Twitter is a form of microblogging. Other ways to share your expertise: participate in online forums, contribute to LinkedIn’s Q&A section, or submit articles to sites such as eHow or your local or professional equivalent. If you’re a dynamic speaker, add podcasts or post videos on YouTube.

Keep your personal brand separate from your company brand – If you’re working for an IT firm, don’t tweet about the company. Establish yourself as the person on Twitter locally who has all the IT answers. Otherwise you’re limiting the power of your personal brand (and what happens when you leave that company?).

Safeguard your privacy – Whether you’re using Facebook, LinkedIn, or any of the social media platforms, check your privacy settings. Most people don’t realise how much control they have. Consider keeping your online private and professional lives separate. On Facebook, for example, you might choose to have a personal page for family and friends and a separate page for anyone else. This is a particularly good strategy if your profession has a more conservative public image that differs from your personal beliefs.

It’s really important that you keep Brand You fresh. Make sure that you invest some time at least each week to keep your profiles current and your opinions flowing!

That concludes the third step in START. Good luck with Articulating the Brand New, Brand You  – let me know you get on!

In the next post in the series of The Brand New, Brand You, I will be covering the fourth step in the START process, Reinforce.

If you missed the first three posts of The Brand New, Brand You please click Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Business Networking – It’s not ‘what’ you know…

Business NetworkingYou would be amazed at the number of people who still don’t understand the importance of networking. Building relationships is crucial – there are many smart, talented people who don’t progress as much as they would hope in their career because they are not visible to the “right” people. Use every opportunity to build relationships with a diverse group of people at different levels in organisations pertinent to your business or your career. When you meet people, one introduction isn’t enough – maintain contact with them – that’s how relationships are formed – over time – not just by one meeting.

Six degrees of separation works – the people you know, know people, who know people. Everyone you encounter has someone in their network with the potential to help you. The best relationships are formed by way of “introductions” or “referrals.” Everyone you meet has someone in their network who may be a potential client, supplier, employee, or employer of yours sometime in the future.

Online vs Offline networking – Which should you do?

In today’s world you need to do both! In my line of business, there is no substitute for good regular face to face contact with your key clients, suppliers and colleagues. I can really build powerful relationships much more quickly in this way. That being said, I’m a big user of LinkedIn and more recently Twitter  (see below) – both of which help me keep in touch with key contacts and influencers wherever they are in the world. I also use them to keep on top of what my contacts are doing, help them spread the word on important technology or business news and help target new markets and customers.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedInOnline – There are many business networking sites out there, but those below are, by far (in my view), the easiest to help you get started:

1. LinkedIn – With over 100 million users worldwide and 5+ million in the UK, LinkedIn is one of the easiest, and arguably best, ways for career-minded professionals to connect. But it’s far more powerful than just an online CV. Use LinkedIn effectively and you can reap the rewards for your career – from being head hunted to closing business deals and establishing yourself as an expert in your field using Q&A and Groups. By upgrading your subscription you can also use LinkedIn to target customers or new contacts. I’ve found that once you get over a couple of hundred contacts, it has really come into its own and has helped me to connect with numerous new suppliers and potential business partners.

2. Twitter – I personally have found Twitter to be more effective than LinkedIn in growing my professional network. This is mainly because on LinkedIn, I generally only add colleagues and business contacts I have already worked with in the past or know personally. You are free to follow anyone on Twitter you want to connect with that may have similar or common interests. Therefore, Twitter will help you find and network with new people worldwide. When you are using Twitter For Business Networking it is important to remember to use it consistently to share your expertise, build your credibility, and take an interest in others. Many people make the mistake of immediately pushing products and services which results in alienating their followers.

3. Facebook – Whilst Facebook is primarily seen as a consumer social networking site, over the last year or so more and more businesses are setting up pages for people to ‘Like’. Thousands of well-known brands are interacting with their customers for service queries and publishing breaking news on product or services.

4. Plaxo – Whilst not really a ‘networking’ site, Plaxo provides automatic updating of contact information. Users and their contacts store their information on Plaxo’s servers. When this information is edited by the user, the changes appear in the address books of all those who listed the account changer in their own books.

Business NetworkingOffline – In the UK, there are many organisations that you can join that will help you build your business network – BNI, British Chambers of Commerce, Institute of Directors. All of these organisations have regional networking events.

Regionally in Yorkshire and Humber, UK We are extremely lucky to have a number of great networking organisations in addition to those mentioned above:

1. Yorkshire Mafia – Is an online and offline organisation that offer regular face to face informal meet-ups around the region – It brings together executives and stakeholders from the Yorkshire Business Community to meet, network, share experience, learn, build relationships and ultimately trade.

2. Techmesh – IT & Telecoms business to business (B2B) networking events, receive business development support, professional skills development and professional services provision. Business networking events feature global IT & Telecom keynote speakers and are held in Leeds, Sheffield, York and Hull on a monthly rotation.

3. Hull Bondholders – The Bondholder scheme in Hull is fundamentally about bringing businesses together to raise Hull’s profile and change its image, providing a positive context in which Hull’s businesses can operate. It’s also a fantastic networking opportunity for business people from businesses of all sizes to meet and explore business opportunities.

Some tips on Face to Face Networking:

1. Have a plan – Do you know who will be at the event? Find out if you can. Who do you really want to meet? Do a bit of online research about the people / companies you wish to engage with or ask around your own network as to key people you should meet.

2. Arrive early – people are more likely to approach you if there are fewer people in the room and you can get better visibility of who is arriving.

3. Don’t be shy – Introduce yourself simply by saying something like – ‘Do you mind if I join you?’

4. Be interested – in what the other person has to say. Ask lots of questions about them and their business.

5. Don’t sell – Networking should not be about the hard sell, although opportunities often present themselves and that’s ok. Networking is all about building relationships.

6. Business Cards – Ensure you have enough! Ensure you exchange business cards during interactions (or ‘bump’ your iPhones!)

7. Follow-up – a quick email or a personalised LinkedIn request following the event is key to keeping the relationship going.

8. Follow-up some more – If you feel that you made a good first impression with someone and you got on well, keep in touch.

9. Keep it up – you’ll be amazed after attending a few events the number of people who will start to recognise you and actively engage, especially if you’ve kept in touch.

Good luck with your networking…..Let me know how you get on!

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