Archive for the ‘networking’ Category

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Networking Event Reviews
February and March, 2009

OK, let’s face it. Heidelberg PR is not immune to the economic downswing. So, before things get too ugly, I decided to get proactive.

First, I added a new service offering to my business – a seminar series that kicks off in a month with “Mastering Public Relations.” I’ve made a lot of progress tapping my professional network to help promote the event, and actually issued the very first Heidelberg PR company news release to the media today. Even though I have done it countless times for clients, it felt odd doing it for my own firm.

Anyhow, that is moving along nicely, including planning for the next two topics: “Successful PR Writing” and “Strategic PR Campaigns.”

Next up, I went a little wild making sure people can find me online. I added the blog, and my web site, is undergoing some optimization upgrades. I twitter and tweet, I’m “linked in” and you can see my smiling mug on Facebook. I signed up for numerous directories to make sure I’m included with all the other local firms when someone goes searching, and I registered for some industry-specific services to strengthen my consulting services. Can I do more here? Oh yes, and I will.

This has all been pretty fun – pursuing a new venture, playing online – but I expected the real fun to be in the networking events I’ve attended thus far. Of course, I treasure my lunches with my colleagues, clients and friends, but I’m talking about events that I’ve either attended with the goal of staying connected with people, or the ones where I went hoping that I’d plant some seeds for future business. So far, it’s a mixed bag.

Now, networking is one of those words that gets loosely thrown around these days, and it can mean just about anything involving a group of people getting together to talk under nearly any circumstances.

Here’s a sampling from my calendar in the last two months. Things that seem purely social can be deceptively productive, and things that should be productive can be total busts, as I have recently experienced. So, before you decide to go “network,” consider your objectives, weigh the results, and determine if you’re going to spend your precious and limited time productively.

Leigh Steinberg Super Bowl Party

My Objectives – support a client partner, support a friend, socialize with other friends, and meet new people

Results – 3 out of 4 objectives met – did not make any significant new contacts even though I worked the media check-in table and interfaced with the Steinberg PR folks for 3 hours and mingled at the party for another 2 hours.

Productive Use of Time Ranking, 1 low, 5 high
Professionally: 3.5 – but only because of my previous relationship with the zoo, who hosted the event
Personally: 5 — Had a great time!

Julie & Jim Heidelberg on the “green” carpet at the Leigh Steinberg party

Susan G. Komen “Pink Tie” Gala

My Objectives – Socialize with PR contacts and friends, meet new people

Results – Once again, quite happy with my ability to socialize with people I know, but the only new person I met was the live auction woman who zipped over at high speed to whisk my credit card out of my hand when I got carried away bidding on a Bahamas trip. Note to all event planners – play emotional video and have personal testimonial immediately prior to live auction. Talk about priming the pump … congrats to those folks on a very nice event, too.

Productive Use of Time Ranking, 1 low, 5 high
Professionally: 5 – no, I did not meet any new people, but I did have some great follow up with both of the PR contacts I sat with. They are both friends and we share resources, ideas and referrals.
Personally: 5 Had a great time again!

PR Pals – Margie Martin, Julie Heidelberg, Cindy Sharpe

PRSA Networking Mixer
My Objectives – Reconnect with PR contacts and friends, meet new people

Results – Sensing a theme here – did well reconnecting with the few folks that I knew from past years serving in the chapter but failed again to connect with anyone new. There were lots of new faces, but the group seemed to hang in clusters with little attempt to blend us all together.

Productive Use of Time Ranking, 1 low, 5 high
Professionally: 3.5 – Once again, the follow up saved me. Unexpectedly, one of my former contacts whom I chatted with that night reached out to me and invited me into his networking group of seasoned PR folks who meet monthly. I had attended a time or two, years ago, but I look forward to checking in out again in May.
Personally: 2 – I enjoyed catching up with those I did talk with, but I didn’t feel quite up for the event that night (had to drive 45 minutes to get there) and I had a hard time making myself get out of the car.

Network of Executive Women Regional Meeting

My Objectives – Support a client, meet new people

Results – Finally!! A breakthrough! While the first two events I listed had some blend of professional relevance and personal enjoyment, I was feeling bummed after the PRSA event where I had high expectations for mingling and outreach. However, I left the NEW event feeling uplifted on a personal and professional level. This is a group of exceptional women from leading local consumer product companies and I really value the opportunity to interact with them. I submitted my membership application at the event, and I thoroughly enjoyed the program. Plus, I met some new people who I certainly hope to talk to again at future NEW events. These are long term possibilities for business cultivation, but I felt I made some headway in initiating a few relationships.

Productive Use of Time Ranking, 1 low, 5 high
Professionally: 4.5 – Made contact with my client, and met new people
Personally: 5 – The speaker, Jan Hill, was fabulous and thought-provoking.

Leadership Hillsborough Alumni Hayride

My Objectives – Reconnect with LH contacts and friends; and, as always, meet new people

Results – Hmmm … there were about 10 or 15 productive minutes where I chatted with some like-minded folks on some relevant public relations topics. There were not very many people there whom I did not already know, so meeting new people was a bit limited. Plus, it’s a very social kind of event, but you never know what might happen.

Productive Use of Time Ranking, 1 low, 5 high
Professionally: 3.5 – the current board chair attended and I had previously asked her to help me promote my seminar to the LH alumni and current class members. She sent out my marketing materials after the event, so it was good to see her and catch up in person. I greatly appreciate her help.
Personally: 5 – I don’t know what to say, except that this is my kind of event. Had a really fun time.

Women’s Networking Event (that’s the official name but they are looking for a new one)

My Objectives – Support a client and business contact, meet new people

Results – As I knew it would be, this was an official networking event. There was ample mingling time, and then we all had our three minutes to give our branding speech and distribute marketing materials, business cards, etc.

Productive Use of Time Ranking, 1 low, 5 high
Professionally: 5 – got to learn about some really unusual businesses as well as share my own firm’s highlights. Also arranged for some follow up with a few people and left with a contact list. All in attendance were encouraged to openly communicate and market to each other.
Personally: 5 – I left satisfied with what occurred and I plan to attend again in May.

Upcoming events:
Tampa Bay Business Journal Mixer
BNI – 3 meetings as a guest