Do you have the “WoW” factor suitable for business networking? If you want to be noticed, you need to be different; you need to stand out in the networking crowd. Networking is less about meeting new people than having them remember you after you have told them who you are. It’s not just about making a great first impression, it’s about making a “lasting” impression.
Your assignment – if you choose to accept it – is to become a red Ferrari in a Sea of silver cars!
You have to bring sizzle to the table. Be bold. Turn up the charm. Take a stand for who you are and what you represent. Don’t use buzz words or jargon. Plain English isn’t boring. It’s clear. It’s precise. Be clear.
Effective networkers are less concerned about what they might “get” in return for attending an event. They focus on helping others first! If you are more concerned about your ROI (return on investment) then you are missing the point. Getting yourself noticed expands your credibility and puts you in a better position to be a resource for assisting others. Networking is about helping others. Always ask, “How can I help you?”
Professional networkers name names. When you meet someone, say your full name loud and clear, and try to use word association. I make it easy for them by saying, “Hi Joni (got her name from her name tag), I’m Larry James, the guy with two first names.” I’ve had people I’ve met track me down because they make the connection with “names” and “James.” Some get it wrong and call me Jim or James. I’m okay with that because I know they are trying to remember. When someone tells you his or her name, repeat it in the conversation as soon as possible. It demonstrates that you’re interested and it helps you to remember their name.
“First impressions are critical. When you stand out in the crowd, your status is elevated, you attract people to you, and you begin relationships in the way that ultimately increases the likelihood of people buying from you, hiring you, and refering to you.” ~ Larina Kase, PsyD.
Make a dazzling 30-second connection! Making your introduction all about you is dull and boring. Yawn. Ho-hum. Change it up. Insert humor (if it’s really funny!). An offbeat but memorable “elevator pitch” will help you stand out in the crowd. Beyond just giving a run-down of what you do in your 30-second connection, you should talk about something that makes you stand out or that might make someone interested enough to learn more about you. Your job title, e.g., “I’m a life coach” or “I’m a Realtor®,” will not set you apart from your competition or get you remembered! You must learn to captivate them with your words. Set yourself apart. Be the only person like yourself in the room!
Be well-dressed. The first thing that they will notice is your physical appearance. Clothes reflect yourself and your brand.
Engage others. We often evaluate people based on who they know. Instead of thinking about who you want to meet, think of who others want to meet and be their connector. This will assist you in becoming a powerful resource to others.
Be unique. Be sure you keep your word. No news spreads faster than the fact that you may be presenting yourself in a less than honest way. Just because you are unique does not mean that you are useful. Stand and deliver. No hype or stretching the truth. No telling half truths or misrepresenting facts in any way. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Speak only the truth. If you want respect, you must earn it!
Confidently share who you are with others. Be authentic. Push the envelope. People will be impressed with someone who is passionate about what they do. Amateurs tend to talk more than they listen. Don’t be a chatterbox! In networking, you should take the time to listen as much as you take the time to speak. Good relationships are rarely built when only one person dominates the conversation. Go back and forth. Ask good questions that do not require a yes or no answer. “Where else do you network?”
Whenever possible seek to be the speaker. When you have an opportunity to present yourself at a networking event or meeting, never let their minds wander while you are speaking. Be interesting. And for goodness sake, speak up. Pump up the volume. Face the people you are talking to. If you are holding a microphone hold it about 2 inches from your mouth and speak “clearly.” It is frustrating to try to get excited about someone who mumbles. If you want people to hear what you say you need to speak loud enough so everyone can hear you. Keep your listeners on track with short phrases like: “Let me explain why.” “And now comes the best part.” “Not only that…”
Stand tall, shoulders back, open posture, eye contact, and wear your best smile. Never fidget, sway or shift your weight repeatedly, jiggle change in your pocket, tap your foot, or scan around the room. Don’t talk all the time about your product, your service, your business. Because nobody’s that interested. Focus on which problems you can solve for them. How can your business provide a solution for what’s ailing them. Where is their pain? How can you fix it?
Never insult your listener’s intelligence by stating the obvious. When everyone knows you are a Realtor, say it no more. It’s time to give them the latest info on the market or offer a tip about preparing their home for sale that blends with your marketing efforts. Talking only about your products bores your listeners. Talking about their problems grabs their attention. Talk about the hassle you prevent; the headaches you cure; and the glitches you can help them avoid. Don’t be clever. Be clear. No gobbledygook.
Discover ways to let others know you are there. You need every edge you can get. Always have some small bit of information to pass along that will help others. Share an article or a link to a Website you think they might like; one that may help them promote their business or introduces them to a new social media idea.
“Make a list of exciting things you can share with others throughout the event – like interesting clients or projects you’re working on or the fantastic book you just read. You don’t want to throw all of them out rapid-fire to everyone you meet, but having a few interesting points prepped will give you some talking points as your conversations flow organically.” ~ Susan Blond, The Daily Muse
Panel discussions are a great way to be in front of the people who count. Seize the moment to be on one. Know what you are going to say. Or, when listening to a panel discussion, stand tall, introduce yourself confidently, and ask a question of one of the panelists.
Never use profanity. Profanity grabs attention, but for the wrong reason. Be smart.
Don’t brag. If you’ve had many years of specialised experience or have won a prestigious industry award of excellence say so with humility. Go slow. Think before you speak. Be prepared. This “no brag” idea takes some practice. Consult with your closest friends in your network to get some ideas. Asking the advice of others also calls attention to yourself.
Be a souped-up Ferrari. Go faster, make more noise, stand out, and attract attention in a polished sort of way! Now, when someone at a networking event asks you who you are, you can proudly proclaim, “I’m a Red Ferrari!”
BONUS Articles: 6 Things Every Small Business Can Learn From Lady Gaga
It’s Really Okay to “Toot” Your Own Horn…
How to Brag About Yourself Without Turning Others Off
Do You Have an Effective “30 Second Connection?”
Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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