Friday, September 21, 2007

Teaching is a Great Way to Network

I was very flattered when Rick Anthony of The Solutions Network invited me as a guest speaker at his class on Organizational and Leadership Communications at Villanova University. I wasn't quite sure what I was agreeing to (most people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying), but I knew it was something worth doing.

It turned out to be a fascinating conversation, as the students were all engaged in fulltime jobs and were taking the class at night. We touched on the disconnect between what organizations say and what organizations do, how messages get confused in the marketplace, and what makes an organization functional or a dysfunctional. I told them what made for good communications (talk about what matters to your audience, not about what matters to you). I didn't get a chance to tell them The PR Secret. Well, another time…

Enough about corporate communications. This blog is about professional networking.

Here's why I think teaching is a great networking tool. The evening started with the professor talking about my background, all based on the bio I had given him. He then teed me up as an expert in my field, someone of significance. Then I had an hour to talk about me. Well, it wasn't really about me. It was about answering their questions by drawing on my experiences and point of view. (Talk about what matters to your audience, right?)

This is called Personal Branding! I didn't get a single business card, but every single one of the students has my name and e-mail address. They all know my background, they know I'm an expert, they've heard my stories and experiences, and they know I'm not boring (I hope). I've heard from some of the students since.

(Someday I'm going to write about how learning is a great networking tool. Conferences, seminars, and classes like this one are fantastic places to meet people and, more importantly, see them in action in a real world setting.)

No comments: