How to generate more leads and work through your network

Here’s chapter 23 of #FuturePRoof, written by Jonathan Bean from Mynewsdesk. Jonathan talks about how doing good work forms the basis to successful networking, the value that can be derived from taking up speaking opportunities and shares his top tips for using social to win new business.

Network with us over on Twitter at @WeArePRoofed


You’ll learn:

• How doing good work forms the basis to successful networking
• The value that can be derived from taking up speaking opportunities
• Top tips for using social to win new business

I  strongly believe that in life you are defined by the people that surround you. The same is true at work. Whether you are an agency professional, freelancer or in-house, chances are your career achievements so far owe much to the network you have built. 

But how do you ensure you continue to build and utilise this network to generate leads and work for yourself? This chapter aims to share my 20 years of success and failure in the art of networking across the globe.

Do great work

You can do all the networking in the world but if you are not good at your job it will all be in vain. Concentrate on doing great work and you will be recognised for it. I got my first break in the agency world by doing great work. It had nothing to do with PR but everything to do with communication. 

I was working as a barman and one of the regulars there was an agency owner who was developing a rapidly growing advertising and communications agency. As well as serving him beer with a smile on my face I took an active and curious interest in the development of his business. He hired me as a junior account exec and when I asked him why he took a chance on a barman, he replied: “You do damn good work…whether it was pouring a beer or dealing with clients…your curiosity for people is what every agency needs.”

Many years have passed since that break into the world of communications but I still hold dear those words in terms of networking. Do great work and be curious. 

This year at Mynewsdesk we created a purpose-driven PR campaign, Mynewsdesk Now, to highlight digital alienation within the elderly. It was a global success and crucially we were able to directly track sales and pipeline generated from this PR activity, as well as the softer brand metrics of media reach and value. 

I encourage all my team to use this great work when they are networking or speaking. If you do great work and have something interesting to say, people will want to speak and network with you.   

Take every opportunity to speak

Most people I know in PR like the sound of their own voice… sometimes a little too much. But hey focus on the positive, use this talent to strengthen and grow your network. Take every opportunity that comes your way to speak at events and meet ups. 

Size of audience is not always a sign of event success. I have experienced networking success at small meetings and intimate dinner gatherings of 8 people, as well as large industry events for over 1,000 attendees. 

Great presenters in my opinion are made not born. Some of us are more comfortable on stage than others, but again if you have something useful to say, people will listen. 

There is no substitute for preparation when you are presenting however gifted a speaker you may be. Know your material inside out, realise people are exchanging their valuable time to listen to you and make sure you bring your storytelling skills to the table.

I judge my speaking success at every event by the follow ups I get after my presentation both in person and on social media. 

If I do not have several follow-on business opportunities (another speaking gig, a meeting request about work/partnership), I judge my presentation to have been a failure. Maybe this is harsh but presenting at events takes lots of effort and energy. You need to ensure you get ROI on that effort. 

And don’t forget the off stage opportunities. Some of my best networking opportunities have taken place in the back of shared taxis on the way to events or at speaker dinners/lunches…always have your networking head on.    

Social takes you places you could never have dreamed of

Networking is not about technology, it is a mindset in both the physical and digital worlds. The old school skills of working a room, giving thought provoking presentations and having something useful to say will always be valuable but the development of your social media skills and activity will ensure you can reach places you never dreamed of.

I have spent many years setting up businesses in all sorts of weird and wonderful places around the globe. Creating and leveraging a network was far more difficult before the days of Twitter and LinkedIn. By adding your valuable content and ideas (not sales pitches) to communities, Twitter hashtags and Linkedin groups you will be rewarded with work. 

When we set up our business in Asia, a few days of work on Twitter and LinkedIn secured introductions, meetings and business with the region’s leading influencers - people I had never met before. A single cryptic tweet a few years back was the start of a large contract with a major UK government department. And leveraging the brilliance of slideshare takes a physical experience to the digital world. 

Recently I spoke at a leading content marketing conference alongside some industry big hitters from Apple, Coca-Cola and Kraft IBM. There were 300 people in the audience and the presentation went down well. But it wasn’t until I posted the presentation to Slideshare that afternoon that the digital networking effect really kicked in. 

After it was picked up by the Slideshare [1] editorial team and made a featured presentation on the Marketing and Advertising section, it received a little over 5,000 views and 200 downloads in one week. Now that was leveraging great work, a speaking gig and social media all into one.

Be nice and make friends

One of my favourite quotes about networking comes from the former US secretary of State Madeleine Albright:

“I think women are really good at making friends and not good at networking. Men are good at networking and not necessarily making friends.”

In my opinion growing and leveraging your network is all about seeing people not as network contacts with an economic value but as like-minded individuals and friends. In an industry full of inflated egos we need to remember this. In business in general I believe nice guys and girls actually do come first…they are the people I want to work with anyway. 

If you want to be a stellar networker, do great work, speak about it, invest in your social and digital skills and most importantly be nice and make friends. Good luck.


Jonathan Bean Chief Marketing & Growth Officer at Mynewsdesk - has spent his career growing advertising, communications, media and technology businesses all around the world. A sought after speaker and blogger on the subject of marketing, communications and innovation. He has a Honours Degree in Communications from Leeds University and an MBA from Henley Business School.

Twitter: @jonobean