Old-fashioned networking

Tuesday night I attended the Triangle Chapter meeting of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) to hear the president of their association from San Francisco Julie Freeman speak.  I used to be active in IABC in Texas and DC but haven’t participated much in the local chapter in recent years since I can’t afford their dues.

Ms. Freeman gave a PowerPoint presentation on a research report from the IABC Foundation on innovation in messaging.  Most of us deal with the clutter of emails, social media, job deadlines, etc., but she wasn’t talking about time management.  Her presentation was on more effective communications, which translates into using simpler and easier to use formats.  Don’t use a spreadsheet in your report when a graph may do.  Don’t use a PERT chart when a simple graphic may do.  Don’t use gee-whiz (award-winning) graphics when a simple live hand-drawn stick figure may do.  In other words, don’t get too wordy or too fancy, or you may lose your audience.

The meeting was held at the Capstrat corporate offices, which incidentally was hosting the local chapter of the American Marketing Association at the same time in a separate room.  The social media tech for Capstrat tweeted the presentation, but when I went to Trendsmap later I couldn’t find any Twitter traffic about it.  (I won’t get sidetracked into a discussion of Twitter at this point.)

I’ve written a lot recently about social media, print periodicals and books, and blogs, but this is a reminder that there is still a place for old-fashioned personal networking.  I followed up the meeting with a query letter to one of the VP’s at Capstrat who was at the meeting.  I had met the President at the Capitol City Club several years ago, but he didn’t bother with personnel issues such as hiring freelancers.  I didn’t get an assignment, but I did at least make a new contact.  You never know what happens from these situations.  If you manage to get into a person’s contact list, you may get a call months (or even years) later when the appropriate situation comes up.

The women’s network is very active in the Triangle, particularly among writers and business communicators. Even thirty years ago there were few men in the profession.  To put it bluntly, I think it was because they were willing to work cheaper, in other words they were paid less for the same work.

Ms. Freeman later in a personal conversation said that she was confident in the long-term viability of corporate communications.  Most operate with a smaller staff and budget than they did in the go-go years of the 80’s, but you can only outsource so much without losing control of the communication function.

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