MWC – A time for networking
Mobile World Congress is ‘the event’ in the telecoms industry that’s on everyone’s calendar. Companies from all over the world spend large sums exhibiting at the show, all in the hope of winning new customers and appearing favourably in the press. As public relations professionals, it’s our job to help facilitate meetings for our clients and ensure everything runs smoothly. For some in our industry, this is all they will do while at the show. But they are missing a huge opportunity – the chance to get to know the very people they speak with on a daily basis.
Nowadays, PRs mainly speak with journalists via email or over the phone, and often have never met the person at the other end of the line. Although this can and does work, being able to put a face to the name can make all the difference, and what better time to do it then at one of the biggest tradeshows in the world?
Over the four days that MWC takes place, there are plenty of opportunities to not only meet and greet, but actually have a conversation with industry journalists and analysts. This year, for instance, several of our clients were shortlisted in an award associated with a trade publication. I had the opportunity to attend with my colleague. This gave us a chance to really get to know the guys we’d spoken to countless times on the phone and, more importantly, let them get to know us.
Award nights are not only an opportunity to network with the organisers, but other industry players too. I’m not saying you should go to these events to poach clients – that just isn’t on. But you will have the chance to speak with people who can provide insights into their business, which could prove to be vital when discussing the industry with a client, journalist or analyst later down the line. As they say, knowledge is power, and these guys are very knowledgeable.
If you don’t have the opportunity to attend an awards night, it isn’t the end of the world. There are plenty of other opportunities at MWC. Barcelona happens to be a very vibrant city at night, with plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs (if you feel so inclined). Why not see what others in the industry are doing of an evening? Everyone needs to eat, and most like a nightcap before hitting the conference the next day, so why not invite them to join you?
Again, this is something we did this year and it proved invaluable to the team. During the evening’s festivities, we had some great in-depth conversations with industry journalists. And through these conversations, we ended up getting a better idea of how they operate, what they like, and the type of stories that really interest them.
Networking is a vital part of PR, yet it can often be neglected as we look to meet deadlines, finish reports and achieve results for our clients. But networking can actually boost your ability to meet client expectations. Once you get to know the person on the other end of the phone, pitching becomes more of a conversation with a friend or colleague – you know what makes them tick and you know what stories will be of interest. Not only that, but you will also have a wealth of knowledge at your disposal.
Building strong links with journalists is still a vital part of the skills set of public relations professionals. Through these relationships public relations professionals and journalists can work together more cohesively as they gain trust in you, leading to better results for your clients. It’s all about getting the right information to the right people and, in order to do that, you need to know them. Networking gives you that opportunity.
So don’t neglect the advantages of networking, and don’t say you’re ‘too busy’ to participate. Get down to that restaurant, bar or industry event and make yourself known! Not only will it prove to be invaluable, it’s also really good fun.