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_Pitching2

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.

Networking for Introverts: You Have It In You!

A good friend recently said this about networking, “How do you get over that old feeling from your youth you’ll come across as a dork?”

Well, first off, I was a fellow dork who watched one opportunity after another pass me by because of the awkwardness of networking situations. It’s a problem that can be fixed. Networking doesn’t have to be like a trip to Sheridan Dental Centre, a “necessary evil” for introverts. You can actually enjoy it.

So how do you break the ice? Have a plan. If you know who’s coming in advance, do a little homework. Check some LinkedIn profiles. Approach someone by introducing yourself and ask the person about something in their background that you found of interest. This mutual interest may be common schooling, a professional concern, the same organization, the same activity, etc.

If you don’t have an advanced list, be current on what’s happening that day. Your goal is to be interesting. Be prepared to share content that others care about.

Avoid the minutia of what you do. Talk about the benefits of what you do in plain English.

Be helpful. You are an expert in something. Give that expertise away to people who could use it.

Listen carefully. Try to locate the “pain” in their business endeavors (we all have some) and offer help relieving it. Being introverted has its advantages. You are more comfortable listening than talking and listeners are often a big hit with extroverts. Listening is a skill, nurture it. Ask for advice. People love to give it.

If you are really shy, consider a suggestion by career counselor Katharine Brooks: attach one phrase to your name tag: “Ask me about…” and then fill in whatever topic you want to talk about.

Have a name tag you can read. I bring my own to events because you often get scribbled tags that force you to squint at someone’s chest. That has its pitfalls. We often don’t catch the name and it is helpful to use theirs when talking to them.

Always bring business cards. I can’t believe how many people at networking events don’t have them. The excuse doesn’t matter. You come across as poorly prepared.

Communication coach Nancy Ancowitz suggests volunteering at events. A task gives you instant contact with people without an introduction.

We’ve all met people who look past us at mixers because we weren’t important enough to them. That’s their problem, not yours. Most importantly, believe in yourself. There is something special about you. Share it. No one was ever shot for saying hello. Just be yourself and stick out your hand.

The author co-hosts a presentation on introductions at the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce on Friday, May 4th. Open to everyone. See details.