Mark Grimm


Be the Speed Networking Standout!

Speed networking — when business people exchange quick introductions and then move on — has become a top way for business people to mingle and to get more customers or clients. It’s a predictable development for the 140-character “Twitter Age.”


Speed Networking

However, many have yet to learn how to be really good at it. It is no small challenge, being interesting is a skill. Improvement requires some planning and technique.

My advice to those running the events: allow each participant either 1 1/2 half or two minutes for their part and the same for the other participant. Enforce the time strictly, too often one participant hogs the time. Try to get a good variety of attendees, it gets old after meeting your third banker.

For participants, the standard sales pitch won’t get you far. People tune out. Try these suggestions:

1- Do Homework
If you know who’s coming in advance, do a little homework. Check LinkedIn profiles. Let them know you’ve studied the basics about them. Identify common interests you share (i.e., same college, love skiing, etc.)

2- Listen Carefully
People are there to tell their story. Let them do it. Pose questions that show you listened well. Try to locate the “pain” in their business endeavors and offer help relieving it.

3- Talk Benefits
Avoid your list of services. Talk about the benefits you provide and do it in plain English. 

4- Tell a Story
You are not there to pack in as many details as possible. Consider your presentation to be a story that paints a picture of what you do.

5- Be Helpful
You are an expert in something. Give that expertise away to people who could use it. Let them feel you are in their corner.

6- Be Enthusiastic
If you are not passionate about what you do, why would anyone else be?

7- Remember the Basics
Have a name tag you can read. A scribbled name is a waste. Bring business cards. It’s amazing how many people at networking events don’t have them. The excuse doesn’t matter. You come across as poorly prepared.

Most importantly, believe in yourself. There is something special about you. Share it.

The writer is a communication coach and consultant who attends well over 100 events a year.

Boring Meetings Cost Money. Be the White Knight!

Ever been in a boring meeting? Yeah, that’s a question that answers itself.

Boring meetings costs businesses and taxpayers millions of dollars each day because the meetings waste the time and productivity of the people stuck in them.

Why then, isn’t the problem being fixed?

There are two issues:
(1) Too many meetings in the first place
(2) Poor value in the ones that are held

(1) Too frequent
Too often, meetings are the result of a poor internal communication process. You wouldn’t need to “get caught up on things” if clear communication was part of the culture. Meetings are also often used as propaganda or gripe sessions rather than problem solving meetings. And a “touchy-feely” culture often cultivates the desire to include everyone in nearly every decision. That’s overkill.

(2) Poor Value
You get “bored” when you feel there’s nothing in it for you. Indeed, a meeting can be one of the loneliest places if you feel you’re not part of the program. A strong meeting requires the following:

A) Strong Agenda
Must be put in writing, prior to the meeting, that is clear about the desired goal. What’s the end result?

B) Good Preparation
Do your homework ahead of time. Determine what role you are expected to play in making the meeting a success and prepare well for that role. Call or email ahead to get the needed answers, if necessary. Learn about the attendees and their agenda.

C) Know Your Story…In A Nutshell
Based on what you have learned about attendees, think about how to tell your story in a way that interests them. Focus on what value you can deliver to them. Get to the point!

D) Points for Style
Arriving late, whispering too much, shabby appearance, cell phone distractions — they all reflect poorly on you. These negative effects say, “Not Ready for Prime Time.”

E) Listen Well
Sometimes, the real problems don’t become evident until the meeting unfolds. Be observant and proactive.

F) Be the Closer if Needed
Know when to take charge if the meeting facilitator drops the ball. Make sure the question is asked and answered, “When we leave, who’s doing what?

Meetings can be a valuable resource. There is nothing inherently wrong with them. The fault lies with some of the people in them. Be the white knight.

The writer is a longtime communication strategist and corporate trainer.