Expert Advice On Business Networking And Tips On Developing Your Networking Skills

Kelly Ferrara interview – Strategic communications consultant

Kelly Ferrara is a strategic communications consultant and founder of StratCommRx. You can learn more about the work she does at www.stratcommrx.com

Josh Hinds: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?

Kelly Ferrara: Business Networking is using social triggers to influence behaviors. Whether our need is to purchase something, earn something, leverage something or feel something, those ultimate behaviors are based on what we learn from our empirical and theoretical decision making paradigms. Networking creates new triggers for the public to learn about our brand, product, solution or idea. Repetition of these triggers builds validity, and can influence the public’s behavior toward you in a positive manner.

Josh Hinds: Can you share a few ideas that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?

Kelly Ferrara: I strongly encourage people to start with a message map. This is often the brand positioning of the company or organization, yet the same process can be used by an individual. It’s fairly straightforward, and for some people it is automatic…others need to build this as a skill.

1. Know your audience. Who are you attempting to influence?

2. Know what you want them to know. What are the three to five key messages that you wish they could recite if asked about your company/brand/organization etc.?

3. Know how to get your messages to the right audience. What 3 to five qualifying questions could you weave into your initial conversation that would help you determine if this person meets your ideal criteria for point number one?

4. Know the value of time. Maximize your time with people who align with your target audience or can influence them. Minimize, but don’t discard, your time with others.

5. Know the value of reciprocity. Try and find one or two good ideas to share with the people you interact with that are helpful to them. This will help build your personal reputation as well as your brand’s reputation.

Josh Hinds: Do you see any common mistakes that people tend to make when it comes to attempting to make business connections? If so, what are they and what corrections could they make in your opinion which would help them to be more effective in their approach towards networking?

Kelly Ferrara: I’m not a fan of the “speed dater” at networking events. I understand he/she is there to prequalify me as a lead or move on to greener pastures. The risk is that you may leave a negative wake behind you. If you shift your approach to one of “I hope to help 10 new friends tonight” as opposed to “I intend to identify 10 new targets tonight” it changes your perspective – and I believe it can change your results.

Josh Hinds: Can you share a personal “networking” success story with us?

Kelly Ferrara: Roughly four years ago I approached someone at a networking event simply because I recognized his name yet had never met. We set a date for coffee and stayed in touch over the years. He was starting a new non-profit association and asked me to be on the board. I agreed and at the first meeting, met another board member and based on building a strong professional relationship with this person, I expect to begin working with his new company later this month creating strategic communications solutions. What are the lessons?

1. Walk up, hold out your hand and say Hi when you want to.

2. Be your best professional self at all times to build your reputation.

3. Be open to new opportunities and give back when you can.

– Happy Networking, Josh Hinds
(Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, or at JoshHinds.com)

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