Networking is all about meeting people and getting known. It is about letting others know what challenges you can solve for them or for their business.
Sounds fine – not too difficult you say. You have done your homework – you have identified your target market, know your unique selling point, have business cards, have information on you and your business and may have even received a list of attendees which has helped you to identify who you want to meet. You are ready and eager to enter the ‘Networking World’.
You arrive early – there is a great group of people all mingling exchanging information in a relaxed atmosphere. Lots of contacts are here and you have exchanged business cards and perhaps have made arrangements to meet for further discussion. You are starting to relax – this is working out fine and you are even going to get a nice breakfast or lunch.
Then a stone is dropped into your pool of tranquillity and contentment. People are being asked to get up and introduce themselves and their business. What – no one said you had to speak to the group!! And just about there everything starts to fall apart. You are nervous, petrified even – you don’t like speaking – you have nothing prepared. You manage to get up – mumble a few words and sit down. What happened to your confident, professional persona? Well, you think, you still have met some good contacts but what about those people you couldn’t get to speak to personally? You had a couple of minutes to shine – to really connect with everyone and get known and you did not use them to their fullest potential.
So – how can you make your Networking Speech or as some say your ‘Infomercial’ more effective? How can you ensure that it adds to your professional persona? How do you utilise one to two minutes to make an impact and convince your fellow networkers that they need to connect with you?
Firstly, prepare – don’t wait until just before you are asked to stand up to put some thoughts together. Put together a 2 minute presentation and practise it. Have a couple of different speeches prepared, especially if you attend the same Network event regularly. Add the ‘Infomercial’ to your Network Checklist.
Secondly, make sure you catch everyone’s attention. You need to connect with the listener on a personal level and leave them asking for more information. Ask a question or make a statement. For Example, “Can your business afford to lose $18,000 per year? On average 2 hours per week is lost due to poor communication.” Immediately you have caught their attention – you have interaction and they want to hear how this can be prevented.
Follow this statement with a short story – an example or testimonial from a client which highlights how you can assist with solving their challenges. Ask them to connect with you. End with your name and business.
When you practise your speech remember the time. You don’t have a long time so make sure it is concise and clear. Add impact by using your voice, body language and eye contact. Make sure your voice is clear and can be heard. You may want to move away from your seat where everyone can see you. This will depend on the room, the number of people and the configuration of the seating.
Remember you use the Networking event to meet people and build rapport. First establish a relationship built on personality – develop trust and respect. Selling your products or services will come later.
So when you are preparing for that next Networking event don’t forget the Informercial – the few words about you and your business. Ensure you make the most effective use of your time in the spotlight, make the emotional connection, follow up with some facts and end with a call to action and your name and business.
May your Networking be successful and fun.
Trish @ Trischel