Last Friday our Manchester team headed down to the Pro-Manchester Bee Social Conference. The event focused on networking – both online and offline – and as our work revolves around building relationships we were really keen to get stuck in!
Here are our top three takeaways:
1) Be a bee – not a shark, turtle or goldfish.
What kind of networker are you? Do you hunt your prey like a shark, going after those contacts most useful to you and quickly exiting conversations in which you see no immediate benefit? Or are you more of a goldfish – friendly and harmless but forgetting people almost immediately, never to follow up? Maybe you’re so shy you hide like a turtle in its shell?
Here at Fourth Day we’re determined to be bees. Bees are social creatures who work together for the good of the hive – just like networking which should benefit everyone involved. It’s not just about what the other person can do for you; good networking grows out of genuine and friendly interactions. Once you’ve built strong relationships, opportunities present themselves naturally.
2) Have a ‘brandonality’.
It’s easy to be yourself on personal social media accounts – who else would you be? But as Sam Flynn, a social media expert, pointed out in one of the sessions, authenticity gets a lot more complicated when it comes to business accounts.
This is where ‘brandonality’ comes into play. What is the personality of your brand? Is it chatty? Professional? Knowledgeable? Once you’ve pinned down exactly what sort of voice you want your brand to have, posting on social media will become easier.
A clear ‘brandonality’ allows multiple people to post on social media using the same voice, making a business’s social media interactions more authentic, fostering genuine relationships with its customers.
3) Businesses are living things.
Jon Barnes, a speaker from Hyper Island, highlighted the danger of viewing businesses as machines with disposable parts. Organisations are networks made up of living, breathing people who are connected in a multitude of ways.
A good business strategy takes this into account by appreciating the relationships between employees and accepting that all members of the network are equally important.
When a business truly accepts itself as a network, its weaknesses become its strength. Just as a whole network of connected cars can improve by learning from one car’s malfunction, failures in a network can become learning experiences.
Networks are strong, but for organisations to work like this those at the top need to relinquish some control. A scary prospect – but one that could revolutionise business.
We’re really looking forward to the next Pro-Manchester event – hopefully there’ll be a chance to practise our bee behaviour soon!
Lizzie is an Account Director in the Manchester team