Networking events are a great opportunity to meet and get to know people who might help grow your business – as customers or as associates with whom you can exchange leads and referrals. But you have only a brief opportunity to make a first impression. Your well-planned 20-second networking informercial must engage and interest people you meet, and open the door to new opportunities.
“So, Mary Smith, what do you do at Company X?” That’s what the person who walks up to you at a networking event says. Are you ready to reply with a great 20-second infomercial?
Advertisers are continually testing their commercial long before they go into production to see how effectively they communicate. As the summer draws to an end and we are all “back to school” in a sense to gear up for the fall and winter, we will be in new formal events and functions and just living our everyday networking life. Everyday is the key – that is where real networking occurs.
When we meet people, it is important to quickly and clearly let them know who and what we are. To do this in a way that is concise, enthusiastic, and memorable, it is sometimes called your “infomercial.”
I like to use the acronym S.T.R.A.T.E.G.Y.
S – Make your infomercial Short and Succinct
Does it make the other person say “tell me more” or “how do you do that?” Grab them with an actionable headline. For example, “I take the fear out of standing up and speaking in public.”
T – Think of it in advance
Create different pitches according to the audience, if you can in advance. People create images and assumptions in their mind, so as the Boy Scouts would say, “be prepared.”
R – Remember the Results you want to achieve
We want them to say, “tell me more.”
A – Be Articulate in your message
Paint in the other person’s mind a word picture. Help them “see” what you do easily and effectively.
T – Time is of the essence
Twenty seconds is optimal. Or you will see “M.E.G.O.” — “My Eyes Glaze Over”.
E – Speak with Enthusiasm and Energy
Your approach can be contagious when you show your passion and interest, which means you need to have some action in what you say.
G – Set a Goal to attain
How do you focus on what you do as a “benefit,” such as, “I work with organizations that are facing the challenges of a new economy and have a service that creates new business for them.”
Y – Focus on the “You” (the other person)
Make it easy for them to hear and listen to you. I always give my quick “headline” and then say, “What is it you do?” Then I can find a way to connect the dots between us by relating to what they have told me.
When you carefully plan how you introduce yourself, you will start interesting and dynamic conversations. Always make the person you are speaking with curious and interested. Tell them something that will stay in their mind when they think of you. The bottom line is to introduce yourself in a way that will make people want to know you better.
Developing those relationships is the heart of networking. And it all starts with your 20-second networking infomercial.