Networking: it's not just about dressing to impress

Networking can give you access to people who are unreachable through other media

Networking can give you access to people who are unreachable through other media

Blogs, trade magazines, press releases and company websites are just some of the resources I've used to get up to speed as a newcomer to the printing industry. Beyond fast-moving news, I much prefer to read printed magazines compared to the on-screen versions. However, there is more to the way I learn about company news and discover technical or scientific aspects of the industry.

There are many communications options that companies use for promotion and introductions and these vary depending on the company's strategy. Channels such as email, social media, websites, press releases, blogs and printed marketing collateral are effective for promoting products and services. This is one way I have learned about the industry, but does this help with recognition?

If someone sends an email, are you more likely to remember or forget what they are promoting? Based on this, I find it is useful to take online conversations offline. Rather than be a robot sat at a computer talking to people through LinkedIn or via email, taking the conversation offline might be more productive. This is sometimes called 'B2H': business to human.

Setting up face-to-face meetings with customers, making those all-important introductions at events and networking have always been on my radar. Attendance at events has not only developed my knowledge but it has also helped us interact with customers who remember me as an inkjet professional. Many industry professionals will despise networking but I thrive off it. What better way to find out more about companies and the people within the industry?

I really enjoy the opportunity to meet with industry professionals in order to find out more about their company and their views on inkjet technology. Full disclosure: I do get nervous, but that's only human. However, everyone is so friendly and welcoming that they don't mind you asking questions – as long as you are not stating the obvious. When I first started to attend events I was worried what to ask people, who at the end of the day are all high-flying executives. Why would they want to talk to a mere marketing assistant? What I discovered was that none of my initial feelings held true. It is very easy to hold a conversation and even more so now that I have been in the industry for over three years.

Who'd have thought that, all this time down the line, I would be discussing industry trends and new applications for inkjet technology, the types of ink used and occasionally jetting off to warm European countries to attend industry events? It's certainly a motivational factor. I remember being taken to my first ever trade show, which was Sign and Digital UK in 2013. I was timid when I first joined IMI Europe, with no knowledge of the industry. Going to an event where I could meet the people working in print, see the technology first-hand and make new contacts was very valuable.

So, what industry events will you be attending? And how valuable do you find networking?

At IMI Europe, we value networking and we know how important it is to our customers. In addition to updating delegates on new developments, overviews and success stories, networking is a key component of our events. We always hold end-of-day receptions where everyone can meet and exchange views. The opportunity to walk up to someone who may never answer the phone to you is really valuable. If you have any views about networking and industry events, I'd love to hear from you – but, until then, consider what your next networking event is and what you want to get out of it. It's more than just a chance to dress to impress!

Kirsty Inman, IMI Europe

This article was originally published on Output Magazine's website.