The 5 “Be”s of Networking Success

As a copywriter, you might expect most of my time is spent at my desk writing. While it’s true that the last year has had me glued to my desk chair, my time isn’t all spent composing meaningful messages.

I’ve been doing a lot of networking recently, and thinking about networking.

My business has grown through my network – meeting awesome people who might become clients, supporters or teachers – I know that Writer For You would not still exist if it weren’t for three and a half years of getting out there (figuratively for the last year, of course)!

But how does this thing we call networking work? When you enter a room (Zoom, Teams, physical or otherwise), how do you use that time to create the connections that will help your business grow?

Words Which Work – It’s All About Your Message

Anyone who has been networking with me will know that my strap-line is

Finding Words Which Work for You

Working because they need to be the right words, but most importantly because your business communication has a job to do, it needs to be working to a purpose, and when you’re networking your words need to be working really hard!

But what does that really mean?

In this blog I want to look at how we can create a message which will support us in our networking.

  • I’m talking about your pitch, whether it’s 30, 60 or 90 seconds – in a small group, one to one or to the room – when you are telling people about your business (possibly amongst a roomful of other people waiting for you to finish so they can say theirs) you need your words working hard!
  • I’m also talking about your profile, maybe LinkedIn or the listing for your group, wherever any new connections are going to check you out… You need the follow-up, it’s not enough just to impress in the ‘room’.

1. Be You

However much you may want to hide, I certainly did when I started networking, that’s no good for your business. Even hiding behind a persona, the confident mask we sometimes have to wear to stand up and do the difficult thing, make sure it doesn’t hide you.

At my first ever networking event, I was terrified. I’m sure I was shaking, I stumbled my words in my pitch – I think I was almost hysterical, knowing I’d made mistakes and not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Despite wishing I’d presented a far more professional front, that experience was such an amazingly positive one for me. I’d spent two hours in the company of friendly, welcoming and successful women (it was a women only group). They were supporting and celebrating each other, they were interested in me and open with their stories and time – I felt like I’d walked into a room of new friends.

At the end of the event, someone said they’d never seen anyone so nervous – she smiled at me and told me she’d remember me and was interested in what I said. Despite wishing I’d not be remembered for shaking like a leaf, I realised that the connections I was making in that room were personal connections so I had to just embrace the nervousness because it’s part of who I am.

Networking meetings are just moments which help build a longer lasting relationship – we hope. If the person you present at your networking isn’t the person people meet later for coffee, it creates confusion and distrust. While embarrassing moments of nerves might not be the picture I want to present – knowing that the individuals in that room didn’t judge me because of it, but still listened, gave me far more confidence in the relationships I was building.

2. Be Consistent

That doesn’t mean you only ever tell the same stories, it means you keep your message focused on consistent themes, your language and style consistent and even certain phrases.

As I’ve already mentioned, I have a strap-line which I say at the introduction of every pitch – as well as mine and my business name of course. This also appears on my website, social media pages and when I’m asked to introduce my business in any setting.

What I hope is that when people see it on the screen they’ll almost hear me saying it, when they hear me saying it in networking groups they’ll recognise it and those words – which nicely sum up my business aims – will automatically make people think of me… I do words, but not just any words – words which work.

Creating a consistency in your style and message will make you recognisable, it’s about building up your brand identity which is essential when you’re building your business.

At it’s simplest, this might be your strap-line. But it’s also making sure the message you put out on your website, social media and at networking are all aligned. If it makes sense you can reuse your text, these are your words and as long as they are relevant to each audience you should make them work!

And, if you struggle with writing these communications, you could even create a template which would encourage you to stay consistent. Here’s a really simple structure you could try:

  1. Introduction – Name, business, strap-line
  2. Point – Why should people listen? keep reading?
  3. Main Body – explain your point and include who you’re looking for
  4. Proof – testimonial or figures
  5. Close – Name, business

For example:
Hi, I’m Natalie Trembecki, copywriter at Writer for You – Finding the Words Which Work for You. Have you ever wondered why people write blogs? Well, one of the reasons is because search engines love them… they keep your website updated, they answer peoples questions and with the right keyword research you’ll have people flocking to your website. If you know someone who’s expertise should have people rushing to their website, I can help them build their blog. As Liz said ‘Natalie is brilliant‘. That’s Natalie Trembecki, copywriter at Writer for You.

3. Be Interesting

Well obviously you want to be interesting, but sometimes it doesn’t feel so easy. So think about what people need to hear from you when you are presenting yourself.

They want to hear something relevant, which will speak to their relationship with your business – whether it’s about you (as a person, because oddly people actually find you yourself interesting!) or how your business is going to make life easier for them or the people around them.

I’m going to give you a few simple ideas which might help you create relevant messages to build people’s understanding of your business. (They’d fit in section 3 of the template above.)

  • Tell a story – whether it’s a story from you in the business or one of your clients about how you’ve helped them, stories bring ideas to life and make them more engaging.
  • Read a review – if someone has given a review of your service use it to show people how you can help. You could even share a sample of life without you, draw a picture of that dark shady life which people are suffering because they haven’t discovered how you can help them – as long as they then see how your service will brighten their day.
  • Tips or insights – you do your job every day and through doing that, know things which other people don’t. If you can help somebody with a simple tip they’ll respect your knowledge and helpfulness and they’ll keep listening.
  • Behind the scenes – tell people some of the stories behind your products or services, why did you develop it like that, how and who was involved; build up the story of your business.
  • What day is it? or week or month? – is there a relevant ‘Awareness’ date you could tie to your business (relevant is the key here). If you do this well then, as the conversation around this date continues, your business could be at the front of peoples minds.

I’ve only given you a few ideas to consider when writing your pitch, hopefully they’ll be helpful. It would be great if you could share your own!

4. Be Specific

Your message shouldn’t only tell people who you are, it must also clarify to people who you are looking for – who you can help.

Your message must be focused on someone who needs the kind of support you can give and – whether you give them a name or just a distinctive profile – you’ll be helping out those in your audience if you make it clear who this is.

Tell the story of the tired shoe shop owner who’s struggling to manage the crowds at the start of term and will be overjoyed when they discover your amazing virtual queuing system.

Or identify the messages people will hear when they’ve met your ideal match – you know the thing, ‘I’m fed up with my phone provider, the service is rubbish’ (I know just who can help with that!).

5. Be Visible

Whether it’s your profile or your pitch, you can’t build your business unless you get your message out there. Don’t give up if you’re finding it hard, there are things you can do to make it easier – and it will get less distressing over time (I don’t always get to that point of ‘near hysteria’ any more).

What are your networking tips?

I hope this blog has helped you think about your networking message, I’d love to hear your thoughts about how you’ve raised your profile through networking.

Or if you need some help clarifying the message you’re putting out there, I’d be really pleased to help.