6 Keys to Good Networking

MP900382854Regardless of business endeavor, meeting people and making new acquaintances is an increasingly important job skill.  Good networking forges relationships that are mutually helpful and beneficial whether or not one is involved in market research, market planning, public relations, advertising, sales or any other related activity that involves meeting people and expanding business contacts.

Despite its obvious importance, it is often the least well-implemented tool in a marketer’s kit.  Reasons for that vary, but experts say many people simply find it difficult to meet strangers and “ask for the sale” – whether that be a referral, recommendation, direction – or the actual sale.

Numerous sales training professionals have programs and methods to help people develop better networking skills, and nearly all have some elements in common.  Here are six basic keys to better networking:

Be Precise & Have an Objective

Ask for the result you want.  Don’t leave it to chance that a contact is going to surmise your need – and willingly provide exactly what you need.  Of course you don’t ask for something that’s beyond what someone you’ve just met will provide, but ask yourself: “Why are you networking and what would you like to achieve?”

Keep it simple.  You’re meeting people for the first time, so keep it light but focused.  If you have a typical profile in mind – then seek it.  If there’s a particular company exec you would like to meet – then seek contacts who can facilitate that eventual meeting.

Determine Who Can Help

Who can help you with your objective?  Does the person have the ability to make the connection, or can he or she lead to someone who can?  Are they willing to do so?

A common mistake people make is to exceed the capacity of a new contact’s willingness to help – or “over-ask.”  So don’t.  Instead, get to know the person.  Ask questions about them, their interests, and if they know anyone else at the event.

Align Your “Ask” to Their Capability

If the person can’t directly lead you to your objective, determine what they CAN lead you to.  Remember you’re networking – so network.  A new contact might not be able to help you today – but perhaps they can tomorrow.

You should also be contacting regularly – and a person who might not be able to help you just might be in a position to assist someone you know, or vice-versa.  Networking is a 2-way street, so good networkers look for opportunities to help others.

Ask for What You Need

At this point, you’ve learned a little about them.  Now, find out about their needs.  Offer any suggestions and / or display a willingness to assist them.  Typically, people will respond in kind and ask how they might assist you.

If they don’t, let them know by offering the same kind of information they provided in response to your casual questions about their needs.

Be considerate

In an appropriate way, show appreciation for the effort or help a contact has provided.  This is dependent on your personal style and the level of support provided.  A simple email or phone call will often suffice – but whatever you do, be sincere.

Maintain the Connection

Contacts are valuable – so keep in touch with the people you meet.  Remember – you’re building a network.  Maintain contact through an occasional email, phone call, or get-together for coffee or lunch.  As hard as it often is to network and build contacts – make an effort to keep them.

P2R Associates Awarded Another Hermes Creative PLATINUM Award

Hermes-Statuette-PlatinumP2R Associates today announced it has received a prestigious Platinum Hermes Creative Awards sponsored by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals for its mobile app development work. This latest award brings the total of number of major professional awards P2R has won to 27 for its work since 2007.

P2R’s latest award is in addition to one Automotive Public Relations Council – Excellence in Automotive PR Award, two International Association of Business Communicator Awards, 20 MarCom Awards and three Hermes Creative Awards previously presented to P2R for a range of integrated strategic public relations and marketing communications programs, crisis communication strategies, mobile app development and print and broadcast publicity achievements.

“P2R is a small agency that produces big results and these awards make that point,” said Cole.  “Our trademarked e³ Process™ results in unique programs that deliver success.”

For more information on P2R and our e³ Process™, visit www.p2rassociates.com, email us at info@p2rassociates.com or call us at 1-248-348-2464.

Agency Compensation for RFPs? A Procedure Whose Time has Come

We have been receiving our fair share of RFPs lately and as usual, the discussion turns to “are we going to get paid for this?” or “they’re just going to steal our ideas and give them to another firm to implement.”

To combat this we have been doing some research into the question of compensation for the effort that an agency expends in order to reply to an RFP, much less win the contract.

According to a recent ADWEEK article, “too often, agency executives view RFPs as take-it-or-leave-it documents, frequently ignoring the risk of giving away ideas “for free” for a chance at a lucrative contract.  Additionally, some RFP issuers have long viewed the process as an opportunity to solicit creative ideas from a range of sources without having to pay.  Neither of these scenarios is desirable.”

AutoZone, a national automotive parts retailer, recently offered to purchase ownership of pitched ideas.  On the surface, it may seem that AutoZone, and subsequently other prospective agency clients, are devaluing the creative and or strategic planning process by requesting ownership of campaign ideas in exchange for meager financial compensation.  Note: Autozone is also requesting a two-year ban preventing agencies participating in their RFPs to pitch competitors – essentially a non-compete clause.

But perhaps this might signal a procedural shift among those requesting RFPs and evaluating agency proposals.  Are agency clients now recognizing property ownership?  Will this be a trend-shift?  The ADWEEK article suggests that this is a starting point for pre-proposal compensation negotiations.  Concept development fees can be explored.  This seems like a stretch.

At a very minimum, agencies should be able to copyright the information contained in their proposals, even if they are not compensated.  Wording should be developed where the ownership of the concept, plan and execution model belongs to the developer until payment is rendered.  Alternately, a non-disclosure agreement could be entered into.  Wouldn’t this be a new idea!

Ultimately, we believe agencies need some legal protection if their ideas and plans are used without payment.

What do you think?

In Case You Were Looking for Us . . .

 

 

 

 

 

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Claiming the Premium Market Position

Increased competition and consolidations among component manufacturers in the North American automotive replacement parts market have created an urgent need to maintain a market leadership position among customers.

Now is the perfect time for aftermarket parts manufacturers to lay claim to their respective premium replacement product(s) categories and launch an aftermarket name brand assault.  Establishing a brand as top-of-class quality can be as simple as saying it – assuming that the brand does, indeed have premium quality and can back up that claim.

Once a company decides this is the proper direction for a brand, claiming the premium position should be backed up with all company communications to the market including advertising, marketing, public relations, sales force, web site, even business cards.  Once a brand has been established as the lead, it becomes difficult for other companies to dispute.

Claim your position today.

Effective Communication Requires Discipline, Practice and the Ability to Listen

As professional communicators, the majority of us spend our waking hours communicating with others, but not in a meaningful manner that makes us successful communicators.  Effective communication requires discipline, practice and most importantly, the ability to listen.

 

The following six-step approach to effective communicating should help you streamline your thoughts, words and actions and help to become a more effective communicator in the spoken, printed and electronic communication world. 

 

  1. What is your purpose for communicating?  Define it.  Are you only sharing information?  Or do you need action?  If so, what action and by when?  Or, do you have intent, such as a call to action?
  2. Respect for your audience.  Are you being clear and concise?  Are you avoiding industry jargon that may confuse your recipients?  Are you pushing information, i.e., “selling and telling” or pulling information, i.e., “asking and engaging?”  For example, do you give others a chance to join your conversation?  Do you listen?  Do you want to listen?  Do you really hear?
  3. Simplicity.  Is your message easy to access?  For instance, can people simply skim your email messages to find the key information, or are they faced with a “wall of words” that they have to sort through?  Are your messages timely?  Do people know how to get in touch with you for more details or where to go for more information?  Are you making sure you’re not contributing to the problem of more information overload?  (Twitter?)
  4. Be a credible source.  Are you portraying through your oral and written communication that you are to be believable and trusted?  Are you doing what you say you will do?  Consistently?
  5. Provide value.  Are you communicating the topic in a way that appeals to people’s interests?  Are you giving them just-in-time information that will help them do their job or solve their problem?  Will they know how to act on the information?
  6. Have fun.  After all, communication is about exchanging ideas, learning new things, meeting new people.  All of this should be fun.  If communication ceases to be fun, then you are not effectively communicating.  Start having some fun today.

Ten Reasons to Hire a Public Relations Firm Now More than Ever

 1. Ready and On-Deck – an extension of a your communication staff, ever ready to provide services that achieve agreed-upon goals, public relations firms provide a critical perspective for clients, keeping them abreast of issues and advising them on the best ways to respond.

2. Objective Expertise – integral and trusted partners, public relations firms provide critical outside perspective and strategic counsel across a full spectrum of communications programs.

3. Stakeholder Engagement and Influence – managing the diplomacy of interaction, public relations firms improve a client’s ability to engage stakeholders such as employees, customers, media, online influencers, community leaders, shareholders and public officials.

4. Voice of the Customer – the ability to persuade through clear explanation, public relations firms help client’s research data and garner third party credibility from targeted media.

5. Messages and Conduits – figuring out the most appropriate message to present to media. The public relations mindset is your natural integrator for developing a comprehensive communications strategy and identifying the best conduits to use. Public relations firms continually fine-tune outreach activities to enhance the relevance of every marketing effort, public relations campaign, and public affairs initiative and/or crisis response.

6. Digital Know-How – because they adapt readily and integrate different communications activities, public relations firms maximize social media platforms and corresponding networks. Public relations firms serve as a combination of communications counselor, navigator and interpreter.

7. Speed to Market – Public relations firms are poised for action, built for speed and conditioned to work in the 24/7 information age. They are results-oriented and focused. By comparison, internal staffs are often bogged down by executive “pet projects” and other internal issues.

8. Fiscally Responsible – hiring a public relations firm can be extremely cost effective relative to the cost of direct employees. Public relations firms can provide peak-load capacity, which can scale up or down as programs ebb and flow. In addition, there are value-added services the firm might subscribe to that greatly enhance any communications programs but would be both costly and problematic for many staffs.

9. Paralysis by Analysis – doing nothing during tough times is not an option for any serious business operation. Public relations firms work with the highest level of corporate executive down to the critical tactical work in the trenches, always making sure clients are prepared and visible and with a higher focus on ROI than many, a firm is better positioned to keep things moving.

10. Cross-Pollination – typically, public relations firms work across multiple industries, geographies and cultures, enabling them to cross-pollinate ideas, providing clients with more robust strategic thinking and more effective marketing communications offerings.