What happens when you take 20 randomly selected people from your contact database, introduce them and ask them to help each other? According to Phil Morabito, CEO of Pierpont Communications, you create friendships and lasting client relationships.
Pierpont, one of the largest public relations and marketing firms in Texas, regularly brings clients and others together for a variety of events. Each is an opportunity to create connections among some of the 10,000 people in their contact database, and to strengthen Pierpont’s relationships with these people.
Every month Pierpont brings 20 clients or other contacts to their offices for a networking luncheon. The luncheons are designed to let attendees meet people they do not know and make helpful connections. Guests may seemingly have nothing in common but their connection to Pierpont, but lasting friendships and business relationships result. Everyone gets three minutes to talk about themselves, what they do and what help they need. Attendees are asked to do something for at least one other member of the group. That might mean making a referral or an introduction, recommending a book, or getting them involved in an event or organization.
In addition to the monthly networking meetings, Pierpont hosts other client events in their offices through the year. The largest event, attended by 175 people this year, is the annual First Taste of Turkey, held one week before Thanksgiving. It is an opportunity to thank clients, friends and supporters with an early Thanksgiving dinner, complete with all the trimmings.
Because the general manager of Pierpont’s Austin office is a wine aficionado, they started the Tasteful PR Series in their Austin office. About once a quarter they provide a program by a speaker, entertainer or artist, followed by a wine tasting. Invited guests get to mix-and-mingle, view an interesting presentation and sample a variety of wines.
According to Morabito, holding the events in the office is important. “My theory on it is that you want to get people on your home court, get them to your office,” he says. “I always tell people to make your place a shrine of who you are and what you do, so that when people are there they can look around and say, ‘Ah, these people are creative. These people are good at marketing and PR.’”
Look for ways to bring your contacts–clients, potential clients, suppliers, investors and others–together. Host a structured networking meeting or an informal open house where the people you know can meet each other. If you want to build your network of contacts, encourage each invited guest to bring a colleague with them.
Bringing groups of people together not only helps them to form new relationships, it enhances your bond with them. As Phil Morabito says, “When you set up a social setting, the conversations go to places they wouldn’t normally go in a business setting or meeting. You end up deepening your relationships with the people who are most important to you. And you can never go wrong doing that.”