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. Networking can be tricky though no matter what profession you're in. For some of our best advice for networking, 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, you should be sure that you 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 because they love their own station and are too busy listening and working on their station to really take much of an interest in someone else's station.
In other instances, depending on who you are networking with, selling your station might be the primary goal. Thinking of the goals of others when you are networking can be extremely helpful in making sure that you and the person you are connecting with receive the most benefit out of the specific interaction and the relationship as a whole. This also helps to ensure that 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 that 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 that 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 is crucial that 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. 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 that you are aware of and bring your value to every interaction that you have. Value exchange is essentially what networking is, so you need to make sure you are communicating your value to others. That's not to say that you should be over-the-top in letting people know what you have to offer to the point it seems arrogant though. A humble understanding of the value that you bring to the table will be enough to communicate your own value to others.
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 that you communicated, you can expect that 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, and contact information easily and quickly. The best part is that you won't have to solely rely on them to remember what was said in the interaction. While there is no guarantee someone won't lose your business card, giving them a business card makes it significantly more likely that they will remember you and maybe even contact you. So, do yourself a favor and get some business cards printed and bring them along with you wherever you go. It'll really up your networking game.
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 to establish the relationship. Moving forward, you should then 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. 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.
Networking is challenging. However, these are definitely some key things that are 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.
For information about having guests on your radio station, see our article here.
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Article Image: HIVAN ARVIZU @soyhivan via Unsplash.