In this post we share five tips for effectively engaging with businesses, as revealed in a recent workshop with members of York Management School.
Engaging with businesses is important to ensuring research has impact.
It can lead to interesting projects that respond to real-world problems.
Collaboration enables you to understand the challenges businesses face and identify opportunities for research.
To be in the best position to engage with businesses you have to pay attention to your online visibility, stay patient and seek support.
Let’s unpack that.
Tips for effectively engaging with businesses
Tip 1: Be visible
Make it clear that you are available to work with businesses. Add calls to action for businesses to contact you on your personal website, University bio and social media profiles. You could develop a one-pager that highlights your skills and experience which you could send to relevant businesses once you have made the initial contact with them. We supported the workshop attendees at the University of York to develop their LinkedIn ‘About sections’ and one pagers.
“During the Research Retold workshop on engaging with business I had the time and space to look at my relevant experience and review my Linkedin profile.” Dr Bob Townley, University of York
Tip 2: Seek support
If your university has a system in place to facilitate knowledge exchange, then make the most of it. Moreover, seek out your institution’s business development managers, or similar, and make sure they are aware that you are available to collaborate with businesses. You could also speak with other academics who are already familiar with business engagement.
Tip 3: Keep the conversation relevant
Talk about what your businesses want to talk about. This is important to consider both when making the initial call for engagement via email and/or social media and when meeting with businesses to begin your collaboration. Consider the key words they will want to hear and which of your skills or expertise they would benefit from.
Tip 4: Don’t use jargon
Academic communication can often be complex and wordy. But when you present for audiences outside of academia you need to change your style. Empathise with businesses. Keep your writing and conversation to the point. During our session with the University of York, we highlighted the importance of ‘KISS’ (keep it simple, simple) when engaging with businesses.
Tip 5: Put in the hard graft – engagement takes time and effort
Make the most of your existing network. If you are new to seeking engagement, then dedicate time to networking and the relationship building process. When you build relationships, do so for the long-term, not just the current project. You worked hard to achieve engagement with the business, so maintain constant communication. Keep track of the relationships that you build and key issues of importance to different businesses so that you can contact them in future with new ideas for collaboration.
“I enjoyed having the time to frame my efforts and feel more focused [in my efforts to engage with businesses.” Dr Tina Kowalski, workshop participant
What are your tips for effectively engaging with businesses?
We hope you enjoyed learning about tips for effectively engaging with businesses. We would like to hear what other tips you have.
If you would like to discuss workshops for your university about engaging with businesses, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.