5 ways to help your clients to network

The original title for this post was ‘5 ways to help your clients to develop relationships’ but that didn’t sound right.

Yet this article is about relationship-development.

After all, relationships are at the heart of public relations. A good PR practitioner looks after their clients’ reputation and that includes not just media relations, sponsorships and events, but helping clients to develop the professional relationships for their businesses to thrive. It’s about connecting them potential customers, suppliers, business partners, collaborators, inspirational leaders, mentors – even friends.

So here are five ideas to help your clients to network and develop the relationships they need:

1. Take your client – as your guest – to a networking breakfast, lunch or dinner

This is a good way to thank your client, spend time with them, and expand their networks. You’re likely to sit together and while this is your chance to get to know your client even better, it’s also a good opportunity to introduce them to others around the table and at the event. Encourage your client to bring business cards and work on their elevator pitch, if appropriate.

Doorway to networking
Doorway to networking

2. Host a small networking event at your client’s premises

While the PR sector is well known for devising launch parties and networking events, there are smaller, private events your clients may want to host at their workplace. This may be a boardroom lunch, a tour of their workplace with afternoon tea to follow, and so on. Invite two people, or invite eight people – the strategy is up to you. The guest list might comprise longstanding customers or suppliers to thank; potential partners the client has not met before; or members of the media who write about your client’s industry sector.

3. Recommend special events to your client

PR people are often tuned in to their local events calendars – watch out for the most relevant events for your client to attend.  I am subscribed to enewsletters for major corporate networks, so I can easily forward ideas to clients. In South Australia, you might want to let your clients know about upcoming events like TedX Adelaide  or Open State, or share the events schedule for Business Chicks, Brand South AustraliaBusiness SA or AMCHAM.

4. Help your client with Board and other voluntary roles

Your client might not have considered volunteering for relevant Boards or committees. Have the discussion with them – what could they give back to the community, and what could that mean for their networks and business? Focus on their skills and interests. Is there a Board or Committee looking for new talent, and does your client fit the bill? Opportunities often come up via word-of-mouth, but are also found via advertisements, or organisations like the Australian Institute of Company Directors (for members) and Volunteering SA and NT.

5. Provide your client with advice to boost their LinkedIn presence

Seems obvious: LinkedIn is a social networking tool. But is your client using it actively? Encourage them to use LinkedIn to its full potential – connecting with others, initiating working relationships; extending invitations and so on.

What do you think? Do you have more relationship-building ideas to recommend?


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