At one time or another we have all believed that networking was about attending a group function, giving out as many business cards as you can, telling those that will listen what you do and at the end of the event if you have had “10 business cards given to you – its been a successful event.
- Nothing could be further from the truth. The above scenario will leave you frustrated as your chance of gaining a client is about zero.
Having administered a trade organization, a chamber of commerce and had the pleasure of listening many times to the networking guru, my friend “ Dave Sherman” critique how we introduce ourselves and network – I will share some great ideas that I have learned over the years;
- Introducing yourself – Dave Sherman calls it your elevator speech.
So many people will introduce themselves by trying to tell the listener/s as much about what they do as possible including, every product or service they have, great customer service, been in the business 20 years, locally grown etc etc. I have been told that by the time the “laundry list” is over, the last one or two items are the only ones that are likely to be remembered.
We have learned three valuable lessons from the disastrous laundry list approach:
- After about 30-40 seconds your audience has lost interest and no longer pays attention to what you are saying.
- THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU AND WHAT YOU CAN DO – all they are interested in is “Whats the benefit to me”” or more to the point “Whats in it for me?”
- You literally have just a few seconds to differentiate yourself from the rest of your competitors.
Your Elevator Speech needs to be short (25 seconds), concise and presents ONE benefit to the potential client. Save the other benefits for the next time you have to introduce yourself.
A one- liner that catches their attention is worth its weight in gold. Practice, practice, practice your introduction and remember that if you start a sentence with “ I” you are talking about yourself and no-one cares.
So, accepting that you are now very capable of introducing yourself, what happens next at a networking function. The guru’s tell us that the art of networking is to create relationships and NOT TO TRY AND HARD SELL.
- Remember - people buy from people. If you are selling three ring binders, people will purchase a binder from you, not because of the binder but simply because they know and trust you.
- Don’t be afraid to help or give a potential client some free advice or help them with a problem, this will go along way to building that relationship.
Presenting yourself and knowing how to network is fundamental to your skill base. There are many knowledgeable experts that can help you on a professional basis. This is money very well spent. If you become good at the art of networking, you will become a great salesperson and presenting yourself to strangers will become part of your personal expertise.
My thanks go to the following people who influenced how I try to present my business – I still have a lot to learn and practice:
Dave Sherman - Professional speaker, trainer and bestselling author
David Hepburn Jnr - Owner atThe Mastermind Roundtable
Norma Huibregtse Captivated Customers LLC
Diane Hibbs Page One For You