“Networking” is a popular buzz word these days and people from all walks of life are being encouraged to network. Over the past weeks, we have discussed preparation, dress and what to bring to a networking meeting. This week, we are focusing on your message.
You attend networking functions to present yourself and your firm to attendees. You want to meet people who will help grow your business and connect you to potential customers.
Think about what questions you might ask of the other person and then answer them about yourself and your firm. You want a concise description of your firm. Look to your company’s website for content. How does the firm promote itself on social media? Read the Mission and Vision statements of your company. Reflect on how other leaders in your organization have described your company in meetings, tours or calls. Then mold this information into a 15-30 second statement about your firm.
Next think about your role in a similar manner. Review your principal duties, the job requirements and think about how the position was described to you. You want to be self-promoting but not too overt. You might describe your role as “I am the firm’s director of business development. I meet with clients and potential clients to determine how our unique manufacturing abilities might help solve the client’s needs.”
Practice your messages on friends and family. Ask them to critique your presentation, then refine and practice again. You want the statements to be relevant to the conversation and to flow easily. Feel free to change things up but only once you have your statements well engrained.
Ideally you want your message to prompt the other person to ask a follow-up question. Remember you are engaging in a learning process about each other’s businesses, so it is best if your descriptions lead to further exploratory questions and conversation.
Be prepared to tell a story or two about how you have helped another business. But before you offer those stories, probe into the other person’s background and company. Learn from their situation what might be relevant to the conversation.
In the next few weeks we will delve into follow-up and how to work with a warm lead.