By Phil Stella
An IT blogger recently interviewed me about my thoughts on networking best practices for technical professionals. Here’s a summary of that lively conversation for your reading pleasure.
How can tech professionals clearly describe their services to attract “layperson” clients? The answer is simple – really. Explain the value of the company’s products or services in simple prospect-centric benefit-oriented language. Lose the laundry list of features in techno-ese and answer the simple question that all prospects have: “How can your products or services take away my tech pain, save me money or make me money?”
What kinds of networking events are worth going to? First, start with the “what” — What are your networking objectives? What do you want to accomplish at the event? The “what” drives the “who” — Who do you need to meet/talk with to accomplish your objectives? Who are your targets of opportunity? If you know them, fine. Follow up by phone, email or text. If you only know them in functional terms – IT managers, small business owners, etc. — then the “who” drives the “where.” Go where they are — the meetings or events where large numbers of your targets attend and networking is allowed and encouraged. If you’re a member, great. If not, most organizations welcome guests. So the “what” drives the “who,” and the “who” drives the “where.”
What questions/follow-up strategies should a tech professional employ at/after these events? Networking is all about sharing information. In 1982 John Naisbit defined it in ‘MegaTrends’ as the “exchange of ideas, information, and resources.” That’s where it all starts. Nothing new, trendy, high tech or sexy.
So Tekkies everywhere rise up … join the varsity team and network as well — or better — than the rest of us.
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, which empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative. He can be reached at (440) 449-0356.
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