Is your business networking plan gaining you new leads and customers? If not, there may be a simple solution – as simple as changing the way you introduce yourself. But first, let’s make sure the purpose of business networking is clear.
Business networking can be a powerful tool to increase productivity and generate leads, but it’s important to understand how to use it. The purpose of business networking is to establish relationships with other business people, potentially gaining new referrals and clients. By nature, it is a social event, but it’s not just a lunch out or a time to be with friends. (Business networking essential for success)
It is a mistake to think that you’re going to sell at a business networking event. This is your chance to build relationships and captivate people, so they’ll want to meet with you at another time in a quiet place where you can really talk. Your goal at these events is to intrigue someone enough to book an appointment.
Target your remarks
Since the goal is to gain paying clients, plan it with specific intent. Before you arrive, think about who will be there and what they are looking for, then target your remarks accordingly. If you have multiple business offerings, decide which ONE of them you’re going to represent. At Pici and Pici, we provide a lot of different services, but when I speak at a business networking event, I only talk about one. You want to be known as the expert, but when you list all the things you do, you look like a hobbyist instead. Carefully consider what one thing you want to be known for doing.
The power of a good introduction
A business networking event can be quite intimidating: in a room full of unfamiliar people, eventually, you’ll be asked to stand up and introduce yourself. Very few people can do this in a way that is captivating and powerful, and one reason is the fear factor. Public speaking is most people’s number one fear. Even those of us who are in front of groups all the time still get that nervous flutter before standing up.
3 Common Business Networking Mistakes
“Hi, my name is Jane Doe and I do sales training,” followed by a list of specific things you do. Or “Hi, my name is Joe Schmo and I sell weight loss products,” followed by a list of products and description of how great they taste and how much weight can be lost. These approaches are ineffective because they contain three big mistakes:
1. Saying your name first. It’s a scientific fact that the element we’re most likely to forget about someone is their name. Obviously, you will need to give your name but place it toward the end of your introduction. Accept the fact that people won’t remember it, and don’t be offended.
2. Giving a 10 second “elevator speech”. It’s commonly believed that you have about ten seconds to grab people’s attention. You actually have only three seconds! Think about TV commercials: the opening few seconds grab the viewer’s attention, and in 15-30 total seconds, they communicate enough information to make the viewer want to know more. You might be surprised at how much you can say in 15 seconds, if you’re not giving a litany of your titles.
3. Being a “walking catalogue”. Your introduction is not the place for reciting a list of products and services, statistics or testimonials. Listeners will not remember them. The sales presentation is for giving details about specific products.
These mistakes are costing you money. Instead, use your introduction to grab attention.
Stop Educating – Start Captivating
The introduction is not the place to educate your clients. Your goal is to capture their attention and stand out from your competition. Giving an effective introduction involves remembering that prospective clients don’t care what you do or what you sell. They only care about how you can help them or their business. Therefore, clients will sit up and pay attention when they hear about the benefits, results, or solutions your product or service provides.
Captivate Clients with VALUE PROPOSITIONS
A value proposition is a clear, simple statement about the benefits, results, and solutions your product or service provides. It never mentions your product or service. It is crafted to solicit the response, “How do you do that?” or “Tell me more.”
It’s critically important to spend time crafting clear value propositions. Let’s use weight loss products as an example. A typical approach might be to say, “I’ve got this great-tasting product that has been proven to accelerate weight loss,” followed by statistics and testimonials. A true value proposition would be, “I help women get into their skinny jeans!” This resonates with people. We all have that one outfit that we haven’t worn in years, but we hang on to it in hope of someday looking that good again. People don’t consume weight loss products because they want to eat that product. They want to eat a big slice of cheesecake! But they’ll eat the weight loss product with the end goal in mind – getting into those jeans.
In order to create attention-grabbing value statements, think about the benefits, results, and solutions that your service provides and use that as your introduction. Your goal is not to educate, but to captivate. Use a statement that hooks people’s attention and makes them come up to you afterward.
An example from my networking experience…
For me, a typical introduction might look like this:
“Hi, my name is Dawn Pici, and I’m a sales trainer,” followed by a list of things I’ve done in the past.
However, the following approach is much more effective:
“Who here would like to gain an unfair advantage over their competition?” (I watch people wake up all around the room as I repeat the question.) “Seriously, which of you wants to gain an unfair advantage over your competition? Well, that’s what I do! I help you increase sales, book more appointments, and close more deals. My name’s Dawn Pici. I’ll be around afterward, so let’s chat about how I can help you.”
Then I stick around. People come up and say things like, “You intrigue me. Tell me more. How do you do that?”
Finally, don’t become bored saying the same thing over and over. I want people to remember that I help them gain an unfair advantage and that I help them increase sales, book more appointments, and close more deals. If I say it often enough, people will remember. Even if they forget my name, they’ll be able to repeat my value propositions to others.
If your business networking plan hasn’t been working well for you, take heart! Craft intriguing value propositions by honing in the most important results you can give clients, and make those first three seconds count. You will be amazed at the number of people who want to find out more about your business!