If you’ve ever attended a busy networking event (and who in PR hasn’t?) you’ll know how hard it can be to pluck up the courage to introduce yourself to a group of strangers and start a conversation.
Many fear breaking into a well-formed clique might be akin to social suicide if you don’t get your timing right.
We’ve all seen those uber-confident networkers who seem to work the room with ease, knowing all the cool people and flitting from group to group like the proverbial social butterfly. They don’t make it any easier for the rest of us left hugging the walls or speaking to the same people we arrived with.
The fact is, networking is difficult and the people who are really good at it have to work really hard to make it appear so easy. They take the time to swot up on fellow networkers, ask the right questions, listen carefully and know when to move on when there is no opportunity.
Building a successful social media following is just as difficult.
Too many “professional” people under-use their networking skills on social media and as a result speak to empty rooms. Having your mother, your colleagues and the odd friend from university following you on social does not constitute a valuable business network.
Socially savvy PR pros build their own following by (a) targeting the right people (current and potential clients, journalists, other PR Pros) to follow (b) sharing insightful content that their followers will want to consume and go on to share themselves and (c) engaging followers in intelligent conversation.
Less than socially savvy PRs post pictures of their hot dog legs, Friday night drinks (on a Tuesday) and endless images of their cats/dogs. It looks like they are having a lot of fun but are they getting the job done? Would you hire them?
As social networkers, we need to put in as much effort as we do into those real events and start working the room. The opportunity social media represents for the PR industry is vast. Will you use social as an opportunity to thrive or will you stay in your comfort zone (close to the wall)?