Though digital communication prevails today, face-to-face networking is still key for making contacts and building professional relationships. But not all employees are comfortable with this kind of interaction. Networking workshops can help.
Any face time that employees have with others offers a chance for them to spread the word about where they work, what they do, and why your company is a great place to work and do business. Networking workshops can equip your employees with the knowledge and confidence they need to be great brand ambassadors.
Here are some tips on how to plan and present networking workshops that get results.
What to Cover in a Networking Workshop
If you want your employees to spread the word about your company and its products and services at networking events and other functions, you need to tell them! Be explicit about your expectations, and explain how employees can play an important role in spreading information about your company and what it has to offer.
Some important points to cover about networking include:
What a brand ambassador is, and how they can help to support the company and its mission.
The value that employees can bring to the organization through effective networking.
How to create an elevator pitch to use at networking events.
Elevator pitches are brief, 30- to 60-second statements in response to the question, “What do you do?” that employees are likely to hear at any networking event. A networking workshop that covers how to create elevator pitches will deliver real value and a concrete deliverable to participants.
The elevator pitch should state what the employee does, what your business offers, and the benefit for the audience. For example: “I’m the customer service manager for [your company name]. We provide customers with quick access to exceptional advice on how they can [the benefit your company provides].”
Provide participants with examples of great elevator pitches, and counsel them as they create their own. Then, have them present their pitches and receive constructive feedback from the entire group. This will help them identify what is and isn’t working, as well as get more comfortable speaking in a networking setting.
Setting Employees up for Networking Success
To make sure that your networking workshop resonates with employees and offers information and experiences that will stick, follow these tips.
Set the stage for learning. Though your employees know each other at least to some degree, setting aside time for introductions and an icebreaker can help put everyone at ease.
Establish ground rules. Some employees will be understandably reluctant to speak in front of others. Establishing ground rules can help you ensure the workshop is a comfortable and supportive environment for everyone. Reinforce that:
It’s OK to mess up or make mistakes—that it’s often how we learn best.
This is the place to practice and experiment in a safe environment.
Both positive and constructive feedback will be shared to help everyone improve.
Give them time to practice. Networking workshops offer the opportunity for interaction. Participants can interact with others in small groups, one-on-one, or in front of the entire group.
Offer real-time feedback, both positive and constructive. What did the participant do well? What opportunities for improvement are there? Giving feedback isn’t always easy, but remember, you’re there to coach them on being a brand ambassador, so staying mum doesn’t benefit anyone.
Follow up. This might include follow-up emails with tips and reminders, requests that employees share how they’ve used workshop training in networking settings, or required report-backs from employees at scheduled times: one month or six months after the workshop, for example.
When your employees know how to network, it can benefit your business significantly. Not only can these interpersonal skills serve them well at work, but with this confidence, your employees can play a key role in boosting the reputation of your brand at any social event.
To further equip your workforce with the skills they need to soar at the office and beyond, check out these training guides from United Concordia Dental.