This article in Bristol 247 was written By Mick Dickinson, founder at BuzzedUp,
Melissa Kidd’s networking training business is that most beautiful thing: a niche business. With Bristol’s vibrant and innovative creative and media on the up, Melissa’s Coaching Creatives training company has tapped into a thriving market.
Set up to maximise the networking skills of people in the creative sector, Melissa coaches media people to generate lots more referrals by building the right relationships and distilling a memorable message.
Melissa’s networking workshops help creative people make more useful contacts. But it’s not about selling. The key is to be a ‘go-giver’, someone who delivers value with each personal interaction. Prospects, partners, friends of friends and strangers… they could all lead to business down the road if you are memorable and skilled at networking.
I was lucky enough to sit in on the ‘Manage Your Mingling’ workshop, together with seven others. We were a mixed bunch, each of us keen to power up our networking skills:
- Three young gunslingers from a fast-growth Bath creative agency
- An ex-London ad agency copywriter
- A new recruit to perhaps Bristol’s smartest marketing consultancy
- A seasoned networker from a top five accountancy practice
- A private banking relationship manager
Melissa’s coaching style is relaxed and confident, and from the get-go she shared some very practical tips. Networking is no mystery, we do it every day, and have done since we started building relationships, aged three.
The workshop was broken down into the three stages: before, during and after the event. This is what the group wanted to get out of the session:
- How do I gracefully end a boring conversation with someone I have no intention of meeting again?
- How do I get/give value out of a conversation where it is obvious the person I am talking to has no need of my services?
- How do I strike up and maintain a conversation?
- What’s the best way follow up new contacts to maximise business opportunities?
- How do I make my conversation interesting? What are the good questions to ask?
Through a mix of exercises, illustrations and questioning, Melissa eloquently addressed all these questions.
Networking can make anyone nervous. Ever had that feeling on entering a lively event that everyone there is having the most fascinating, deep conversations — except you? Then there is the widely held fear that you’ll have nothing in common with a roomful of strangers.
To dispel these myths, and show how easy it is to strike up conversation, Melissa started with an unusual but certainly memorable exercise. We unearthed the most unexpected common ground…
The group was shown how a little preparation in advance of an event, and setting simple objectives, can give real focus and maximise networking time.
But ‘working the room’, even when fully prepared, throws up a big problem for many people: how the hell do I remember everyone’s name?
Melissa shared an intriguing three-step process for locking people’s names clearly into the memory. This — and many other tips — really are gold-dust, and too valuable to divulge here. However, Melissa has shared her top ten tips for networking know-how in a guest post on my blog.
If you’re in Bristol’s creative industry, the two networking workshops from Coaching Creatives — Managing Your Mingling and Make Yourself Memorable — can make a huge impact. Some agencies report a 50% increase in business using the tips and tools learnt.