About the Author

Who is Robyn
Robyn Braley is committed to helping Rotarians grow their clubs to become better equipped to help people who need help. He has led two club teams that were awarded RI PR Awards and served as the District 5360 PR Chair. He has been a Rotarian since 1999.

Rotary Speaker
Robyn draws from his experience as a Rotarian and as a Communications Professional to share ways to more effectively tell the Rotary story to your community. He starts by asking the questions, "Is your club ready to grow, and why does it matter?" The ultimate focus is on attracting new members.

He is available to speak at District Conferences and Rotary leadership training institutes. Content also applies to other not-for-profit organizations.

Free Content for #Rotary and NFP Use
Please use any posts for Rotary District or club Newsletters. Include the profile at the bottom of each article, Robyn's headshot and a link to this blogsite. Let him know and he'll promote it to his social media followers.

Contact him at robyn@unimarkcreative.com

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Does Networking Scare You? Tips for Networking and Making Rotary Part of the Conversation

Written by Robyn T. Braley

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m a habitual networker. I just can’t stop. I network everywhere I go

I found a new client through a conversation we had at a reception following a funeral. I didn't go to the funeral for that purpose, but I was ready when the opportunity arose. 

As Rotarians, we are known for doing amazing things in the community. We are also famous for not tooting own horns! 

The advent of social media has placed new emphasis on telling stories. Rotary certainly has stories! Rotarians ...

  • Save lives
  • Improve lives
  • Enrich lives
  • Change lives 

In previous posts, I've provided tips about how to tell your stories through traditional and social media.

Nine Posts to Help Your Club Attract Media Attention

Relevant rotary stories are great for business networking conversations. What if you 'slipped in' relevant Rotary stories? Could that plant a seed in the mind of a potential Rotarian? 

On another level, mentioning Rotary will add credibility to your personal brand. I mention that I am a Rotarian in first meetings with clients.  

Building Relationships

I recently edited a video featuring Jim Adamson, a Past District Governor of Rotary District 5060. Jim leads workshops about growing clubs. The 1 hr video is called, Rotary Membership Priority #1 Plus. His content includes great ideas about new member attraction, member retention, and club branding.

Jim Adamson speaking at a District 5360 membership event. 

Front and centre throughout the video is the importance of building relationships inside and outside of your club. Professional and personal networks are the most likely places to connect and attract potential members.

Check out this video for ideas about growing your club.

For business or Rotary, the purpose of networking is not to collect a pocket full of business cards. It is to connect and begin a conversation that will lead to forming some level of relationship.

The Elephant in the Room

Networking champions always have a strategy driven by discipline and focus. The more they network, the better they will become.

For some, networking is natural and easy. For others, it is one of the most frightening exercises you can imagine.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Some people absolutely hate networking. Now I have increased your intimidation level by suggesting you artfully and skillfully mention Rotary. 

  • You feel panicky in a strange crowd 
  • You can't think of anything meaningful to say 
  • You fear being embarrassed

Networking Builds Brands

Put your game face on! If you accept that your brand is what others think it is, developing your networking skills will help make great first impressions.

This post is Rotary specific. I've taken some of the content below from a Linkedin post I wrote in October. If you want more ideas, click on the link for that post.

How to Prepare

Meaningful conversation or even small talk is daunting for some people. If that describes you, spend time each week reading articles about current affairs, sports, local issues and political or business topics.

If you can only spend an hour per week studying, do it. If you can spend more time, that is even better. It won’t take many weeks until you accumulate a bank of knowledge that you can draw on. 

There are two reasons why expanding your knowledge resource bank is important.

  1. It allows you to contribute and add value to conversations
  2. It provides a background for asking smart questions
  3. It gives you confidence
  4. It gives you timely information to add relevance to conversations

Rotary Ticklers

Write a list of Rotary conversation starters. Only choose topics that would be relevant to a business conversation. 

  1. I've found that Rotary is a great place for leadership development ...
  2. A speaker I heard last week at my Rotary club said ...
  3. I was in Mexico last month volunteering on a service project with my Rotary Club ...
  4. I travel internationally. An advantage of being a Rotarian is that I can quickly learn about local business culture by visiting a club ...
  5. My Rotary club supports youth organizations like the Jr. Chamber of Commerce ...
  6. Each year my Rotary Club sends students to our nations capital to learn first hand how our government works ... 
  7. Our club has supported several (domestic violence, addictions, immigrant) organizations ... 

Business Card

Your business card is your badge. Take them everywhere. I carry a metal card case with my business cards in the front and my club Rotary cards in the back.

If printing a Rotary card, invest in thicker paper. A $50 saving will be lost if your prospect forms a negative impression due to a flimsy card that is cluttered with unneeded information.

Place your cards in one pocket and organize them so you can easily pull them out facing the right way. Take the other person’s card, look at it, and place it in your opposite pocket.

Organize your cards in on pocket or a specific location in your
purse. Place received cards in your other pocket or
 another part of your purse..

Never be in the position of having to sort through used tissues or $10 in change to find your card. Also, don't be the person who carries a smudged, bent card "somewhere in my wallet card." 

At a reception of 3,000 plus people you may gather 20-30 cards. After you finish a conversation, move to the side and write relevant notes on the back of each person's card. The cues will remind you why you need to remember who they are. 

Action! Take One

The day of the event has arrived. You’re all set. You enter the room and feel the buzz of conversation. You approach your first prospect.

Open the conversation by extending your right hand. Lean in slightly and make solid eye contact as you say the person's name. People automatically respond to this timeless tradition.

Conversely, end a conversation the same way. You never need to feel uncomfortable ending a conversation. Extend your right hand, express how glad you are to have met them and move to the food or drinks bar.

Follow Up

A company exhibited at trade shows throughout North America. They seldom followed up most of the contacts that were made. Followup is where the gold is.

Email the people you met the following day if possible. Make a short relevant comment about the event. Ask for permission to keep in contact in the future. 

Next, find their LinkedIn profile or other social media channel and send a request to friend, follow or connect.

If you have a regular email program, add their name. That provides a natural way to stay in contact by offering value through providing relevant content. They can opt-out if your enews is not wanted.

If you sparked interest in Rotary, invite them to your next meeting.

What do you think? Do you have stories about good or bad networking experiences? Do you have tips? Did you start a conversation with someone who became a Rotarian? Your insights are welcome. Please comment below. 

The End

Robyn Braley is a brand specialist, professional speaker and writer. He is also a Rotarian who is passionate about Building the Rotary Brand. He has led two teams that received the Rotary International PR Award. He has also served as the PR Chair for District 5360. He often speaks at Rotary clubs, conferences and leadership development assemblies. He currently serves on the District 5360 Membership Committee.

Contact Robyn

Email: robyn@robyntbraley.com   Connect on LinkedIn Follow on Twitter: @rtbraley_rotary 

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