Networking is always about communications. You power-up your connections by giving them something exciting and different to talk about. What you say is important.
You should aim to attract people by being visible. Show up and shine. Dress well. When you dress well, you exhibit self-respect. Wear your best smile. Smiles are contagious. Be confident to inspire confidence in you. Be interested and interesting.
If you are truly interested in meeting people and are open to learning about who they are, they will get this in a first impression. There are two sides to networking: getting to know other people, and getting other people to know you. When you are meeting people for the first time approach them with a genuine interest in who they are. Be memorable. The first impression you make on someone is very important.
Invariably someone will say, “”So, what do you do?” Those five words are on the minds of everyone you meet. Or, you will be given the opportunity to introduce yourself at a networking meeting. For this, you must practice, practice, practice. Practice so that the delivery is natural, conversational, and effortless. It has to roll off your tongue. Do it well and it enhances both your image and your results. Create a script that conveys who you are, what you offer, your market, and the distinctive benefits you provide.
Work to make your self-introduction exciting and informational. Add some excitement. If you aren’t excited about what you do, there’s no reason anyone else should get excited either. There was some sort of passion that lead you to get involved with your business; let it show through. If you’re not passionate about your topic, how do you expect anyone else to be? Be creative. Use props. Give them something to talk about! Do not take this step lightly.
Most networkers call this introduction your elevator speech – some are 30 seconds and some are limited to one minute. (By the way, we no longer call this an elevator “pitch.”) Your elevator speech is more appropriate if you are attending a networking meeting, not a networking event. It’s not exactly a speech that you memorize, an elevator speech is a couple of refrains that you remember that you can build around, given the situation. I recommend what I call the “30 Second Connection” (your statement of introduction). It’s a concise, carefully planned, and well-practiced marketing message about your professional self. It allows you to succinctly and positively position yourself in the mind of the listener.
Edit your 30 second connection until you can introduce yourself and your business in less than a minute, which is how long most prospects will give you to win their interest. Shrink your introduction even further so you can tell your story in 20 words or less or 30 seconds or less. Focus your 30 second connection on who you are and what you are looking for. I recommend that you repeat your name twice in your introduction, at the beginning and at the end.
Have your facts on hand about your business and services and give them something to talk about when you explain what sets you apart from the rest. Ask yourself, “What makes you different than your competition?” Begin by making a list of as many things as possible. Talk to your friends. Ask them what they think makes you stand out. What’s unique about you? What can you do for others? I cannot stress how important it is to be prepared. Write them out. This will get the juices flowing. Practice talking about them “out loud” in front of a mirror. Set yourself apart by thinking before you speak.
Take stock of interesting things going on in your own life. In my case, if given the chance I always mention that my Networking Blog has more than 500 free networking articles. If you or your company have won an award, include that. This will help you build your credibility. There is no need to ramble on listing all your achievements, just pick the top one or two rock star moments of your career. These things can be hard to think of on the fly when someone asks what you’re up to, so it’s good to give them some thought ahead of time so they are fresh in your mind when someone asks. Always deliver your 30 second connection with enthusiasm and a little “attitude” thrown in. Be empathetic, be knowledgeable and get them hungry for answers. Always leave them wanting to hear more.
Your 30 second connection should not be carved in stone. If you come across a better explanation of what you do, include it in your introduction. It’s even worthwhile to test out multiple versions of your elevator pitch and make changes based on the result. It’s never one size fits all. I have three or four 30 second connections depending upon where I am and whither it’s a networking meeting or a large networking event. You can more easily adapt to the situation if you’re flexible that way. Over time you will discover that your audience will be a determining factor in what specific message you want to convey. Be willing to ad lib.
“Ultimately, you’re going to want to deploy your pitch everywhere – in your conversations, on your website or Blog, in your brochures. As in a game of “telephone,” you better be crystal clear in delivering your message upfront, so it survives subsequent iterations intact — and can turn into real business and real money for you.” ~ Dorie Clark
Be flexible. If you hear a problem stated in someone else’s 30 second connection, shine your light on a solution. The end of your introduction is a priceless opportunity to leave embed brand in the mind of other networkers, teaching them how to talk about you and solidifying what you want to be known for. Look at the real benefits to people who are listening to you – not what you think the listener wants to know – what they actually need. Remember your 30 second connection is perhaps the most important thing that you created in your networking marketing package.
Copyright © 2015 – 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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