As they say: teamwork makes the dream work. Networking is an extremely helpful tool for growing and improving your radio station as well as developing a brand. Networking is vital to finding guests for your shows, improving your station, promoting your station on various media outlets, finding sponsors, and generally spreading the word about your station. And hey - there's nothing better than making new acquaintances!
Of course, no matter what profession you're in, networking can be tricky. It's a hard thing to put yourself out there. And yes, we know it can feel icky to connect with people purely for the hope of career gain. But don't worry: it doesn't have to feel so daunting or heartless. For some of our best advice on networking in the broadcasting industry, keep on reading!
Be Mindful of Goals
One important thing about networking as a broadcaster is that you should remain mindful that in some cases, you may be networking with other broadcasters who have the same goals as you - including wanting others to listen to their station. In these cases, be sure to focus your attention on finding mutual benefits between yourself and other broadcasters instead of trying to simply sell your station. Trying to sell your station to other broadcasters is wasted time and energy. Why? Because other broadcasters love their own stations and are too busy listening and working on their stations to really take much of an interest in someone else's. We know it's harsh, but it's the truth.
In other instances, depending on who you're networking with, selling your station might actually be the primary goal. Thinking of the goals of others when you're networking can be extremely helpful in making sure you and the person you're connecting with receive the most benefit out of that specific interaction. Not to mention the most benefit out of your relationship as a whole. Thinking of the goals of others also helps to ensure you aren't wasting your time, anyone else's time, or the potential connection by pursuing a certain goal that makes no sense for the relationship.
The Select Few
It can be easy to think connecting with as many people as possible is the key to success. However, that is simply not true. The key is to select a few people, perhaps 15-20 maximum, that are especially relevant to you and what you have going on. Developing those relationships further and really putting the time and effort in to foster great connections will do much more for you than having weak ties with 50+ people.
Remember: it can be valuable to have some weaker ties with a larger group of people, and you can certainly maintain those connections while focusing on your select few. Just know that it's crucial you give the necessary attention to your select few to maintain those strong relationships even if you do want to spend some time fostering new relationships with that second tier of connections.
Think People, Not Positions
Getting too caught up on people's positions can be a really big mistake. You should consider what the future may hold for people instead of solely focusing on the now. Sure, you may want to connect with some people that have a certain position currently. However, that does not mean that you should avoid connecting with people outside of that position.
You may meet someone who isn't in the most ideal position now, but they may have a really bright future ahead. Or alternatively, the people who have high positions today may be switching jobs tomorrow! You never know what could come of any connection, so it is best to stay open-minded and avoid focusing on positions, the present, etc.
When networking, you always want to ensure you are aware of and bring your value to every interaction you have. Value exchange is essentially what networking is, so you need to make sure you are communicating your value to others. Figure out which unique and niche skillsets you bring to the table, then make sure you communicate those valuable skills to your networking targets.
That's not to say you should be over-the-top in letting people know what you have to offer to the point it seems arrogant, though. It's also never a great idea to inflate, overestimate, or lie about your abilities. For example: saying you're great at managing a station when you've literally never done it before. A humble understanding of the value you bring to the table will be enough to communicate your own value to others. In fact, sometimes it's better to be vulnerable about what you can't do than arrogant about the things you can do. Vulnerability = relatability, and relatability is what sparks connections in humans.
Generosity when networking is crucial. You should always offer help before ever asking. As discussed, networking and building those professional relationships largely depend on a mutual understanding of give and take, or value exchange. While you need to bring value to the table to create a relationship, you also need to be generous to develop that relationship.
Generosity will go a long way in building trust and showcasing your value. Ultimately, if you show that you are trustworthy and have the value you communicated, you can expect others will likely be willing to help you out, potentially before even being asked.
Bring Business Cards
When you are anticipating networking in person, bring business cards! You may even want to have some business cards with you at all times since you never know who you could run into. Business cards will be a tangible thing that will remind people of you and that they interacted with you. They will be able to reference your name, station information, contact information, and social media usernames easily. You can literally put whatever you want on a business card! The best part about business cards is that you won't have to solely rely on the person you handed one to to remember what was said in your interaction.
While there is no guarantee someone won't lose your business card, giving them a business card makes it significantly more likely they will remember you and maybe even contact you. Do yourself a favor and get some business cards printed. Bring them along with you wherever you go - stuffing them in your wallet is a good idea! It'll really up your networking game and feels more professional than just asking someone to follow you on social media.
After talking with someone, whether that be online, in-person, or via email, you should plan to follow up with them shortly after to have that second contact - thus further establishing your relationship. Moving forward, we recommend you contact them 3-4 times per year to sustain the relationship. Obviously, to grow your relationship and begin business, you will have to contact them more regularly. But, to simply keep someone in your network, it is important to reach out to them at least a few times per year.
However, remember that contacting someone too much is a risk. You don't want to come off as robotic, annoying, or completely desperate. Unless you have specific matters to discuss or a close relationship, you should refrain from contacting someone in your network more than a couple times per year. It is about balance with how much you contact people in your network, so use your best judgment so that you don't annoy or overwhelm anyone. If you feel like you have a natural in to a conversation, then go for it.
Networking is challenging. There's definitely a lot more to it than we've discussed However, the tips we've mentioned are definitely some basic, key things helpful to keep in mind. Next time you are networking, be sure to think about goals, focus on a select few connections, stay open-minded, bring value, be generous, bring your business cards, and always remember to follow up. If you remember to do those things, you will be well on your way to building out a fantastic network!
Need some networking tips for the podcasting world? Check out our networking tips for podcasters here! And if you manage to get one of your new networking connections as a guest on your show, definitely check out our guide to bringing on station guests here. We hope you learned something new, and happy broadcasting!
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Article Image: HIVAN ARVIZU @soyhivan via Unsplash.