As an entrepreneur, I give complimentary keynote speaking, mini-seminar or hour-long presentations to promote myself, to create new connections, to launch a new workshop, or to establish credibility as a consultant. I recommend the same strategy to any professional – managers or executives – as a way to develop and move their careers to a new level.
This is a perfect way to network for a number of reasons:
1. There is no better way for people to get to know you than a face-to-face encounter. There is still no substitute for a handshake to get to know people and them to get to know you. Even online speaking or webinars will allow you to be seen through your webcam or to be heard through your built-in micropohones. Of course, you can always get some cool gadgets but it is not always necessary. The objective is to put a face (or voice) to your name so people could remember you better.
2. Credibility is the most important value that you could get out of a speaking engagement. People know right away what you know and what you can deliver if they hire or engage your services. Even if the audience is not your direct target “market”, as long as they could lead you or refer you to your objective, then it is worth creating a good impression.
3. This is a perfect way to make a real and meaningful connection with people you would not otherwise be able to meet one-to-one. There is something powerful about speaking in front of 50 people or more and creating that impact that could linger for a long period of time. You would need to speak to each person for at least 20-30 minutes to make that same kind of connection. What a way to save time!
4. If you are looking for a way to give back to your community while taking some benefits in return, this is it. It is so rewarding to be able to share what you know to people who would be able to use and appreciate it. Giving has its own intrinsic rewards and its return is not always immediate but nonetheless substantial.
This leads me to the essential thing about networking: it is not about what you are taking from it, it is always about what you can contribute or share to others that makes it successful. Come out to network with an attitude of giving. You can never go wrong with a good intention.
Before you go out to use presentations as a networking tool, just keep in mind a few things:
1. Keep a freebie to an hour or less so you make your investment in time just enough to compensate your estimated return (benefit);
2. Be selective and make sure the audience is your target market or would lead you to your objective;
3. Prepare your material well to ensure that the topic is something that would be of interest and benefit to your audience; and finally,
4. Speaking can work both ways: it can build your credibility or can ruin your reputation if you let the audience down. Do your homework and continue to improve on your speaking skills.
To find out how to nurture and develop your network, read another article on Networking in Career Management.
If you want to get more information about how to promote and market yourself in pursuit of your career development objectives, send an e-mail or inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org