During my time working at Gabriel Marketing Group, a technology marketing firm located in Tysons Corner, Va., I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most innovative technology companies to date and helped them achieve their brand positioning, strategic messaging development and day-to-day public relations tasks.
Along with these efforts, GMG prides itself on presenting its employees with professional and business development opportunities, networking events and exposure to some of the latest technology conferences and events around the country and the Washington, D.C., metro area.
Last April, I attended the Collision Conference in New Orleans. It attracted some of the most promising startup companies, entrepreneurs and CEOs, venture capitalists, world-class speakers and tech investors from all over the globe. During this annual conference, these industry leaders converged to learn about the latest trends in technology and innovation in search of the next proverbial “unicorn”.
While many of the attendees planned to see the latest technology and hear from dynamic speakers, others like myself were focused on creating beneficial relationships by networking and expanding their circle of acquaintances to help drive financial success. The arts of networking and business development are critical to establishing the relationships necessary in helping professionals, organizations and companies differentiate themselves from others, and most importantly, their competition.
When I arrived, I noticed that not only were companies producing the best prototype of their products, but they all shared a commonality that tied them together; these industry creators had a passion for innovation. Additionally, many had mastered the art of networking in order to help facilitate disruptive innovation in their businesses and streamline their search for business leads.
In my own business development activities, I’ve relied on three key rules for networking and expanding my base of contacts.
Rule of Value and Active Listening
Networking, by definition, is a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups that have a common interest. At the fundamental level, networking is not about who you know; it’s about who knows you, likes you, and respects you and what you have to offer. The relationship is usually established because you can give or offer a service of value that someone else needs.
When getting to know someone, it’s important to offer what you can do for them versus asking for something that benefits you. The way to really home in on what your prospective client needs is by engaging in active listening. This practice presents opportunities to learn about what is going on for your potential client’s company and understand business development opportunities that may have otherwise been overlooked.
Active listening is often overshadowed by other factors, but it is an important skill that has to be continually developed. Growing companies understand that their business’s worth is determined by how much greater their value proposition is relative to the cost to the client. To help facilitate that “hockey-stick growth,” CEOs and entrepreneurs alike should aim to make sure they’re actively listening and asking themselves if their product adds value to others.
Rule of Authenticity
When you meet people for the first time, resist the urge to spill out your life story in 60 seconds. The most valuable gift that CEOs and entrepreneurs have to offer is themselves. Although at first it may appear that you are marketing a product or a company, in actuality, what you are really doing is offering you. Many consumers can see through a phony pitch, therefore it’s important to remain authentic and fully understand the needs of your client–the end result being that they not only trust you as a credible resource but through your authentic actions, they will become a return customer.
Rule of the Follow Up
As a business owner, it’s important that you deliver a great product, but it’s also necessary to deliver on your word. In the digital age that we live in, it takes one bad Yelp review or negative tweet to weaken your brand. It doesn’t work to the advantage of the CEO to play “hard-to-get” with a potential business connection. It is key to remain mindful of the practice of following up. Create a LinkedIn profile for your business to stay connected to influencers in your industry and increase the SEO traffic of your website content. It feels good to make valuable connections, but more than anything, you have the joy of being of service to others.
Are you looking to experience disruptive growth for your company by combining your marketing and public relations efforts under a winning content market strategy? Contact Gabriel Marketing Group to get the conversation started.