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.”
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.