No matter how good your Digital or Social Media Marketing is, many businesses need to network with other potential clients, referral partners, resellers or industry colleagues.
What do you say to the age-old question at a networking event when someone asks, "what do you do?". Well having your introductory pitch can make or break your first impression.
So this article, based on our recent podcast, Networking Made Easy will give you some useful tips to building an effective introduction as well as pointing out how to avoid some common mistakes people make when introducing themselves at networking events.
General Networking Tips
- When people first meet at a networking event they are trying to find some common ground, this is one of the major factors in deciding whether someone will engage with your answer
- If you don't make it easy for the other person to find something in common, then that is when the conversation stalls and you end up with a pregnant pause and the conversation stalls
- Practice your introduction out loud, for some reason practicing in our heads just isn't sufficient, what we end up doing is making intuitive leaps and we assume that we know how to get from point A to point B, from sentence A to paragraph B and it's not until we say it out loud that we realise that it's not as clear as we first thought it was.
Why an Effective Introduction?
- The first reason you need an effective introduction is for yourself, you need to hear something come out of your mouth that you are happy and proud of so you can easily describe your business to anyone who asks
- There's also extremes that you need to consider when formulating an introduction either;
- Some people will go to the extreme of labelling themselves by industry type, they'll say "I'm an accountant or a salesperson" and you can almost hear the other person judging based on a comparison of all the other people that they know in the same industry
- This is not good as regardless of all the great benefits your accounting firm may have as soon as you label yourself as an accountant they may dismiss you as just another accountant
- The other extreme that you will see is the type of person who will say something along the lines of "I help people dream their wildest dreams and then I work with them to manifest that dream into reality".
- Following this type of response, you are none the wiser about the business and you've probably been alienated by the other person
- The second reason you need an effective introduction is to be able to engage with the other person, it's all about giving them an opportunity to be able to add to the conversation.
- So, we need to be able to give an answer that increases levels of engagement with the other person, anything to avoid pregnant pauses and stop the conversation stalling
- The third reason is that if you are in a sales situation or at a networking event we certainly don't want to pass up an opportunity to start the qualification process (the process of qualifying whether a potential prospect is a good fit for your business, product or service).
Structuring your Introduction
- Think about the person who is always selling, the person who is always making statements, if they are always making statements then I can't get into the conversation, so think about the opposite of a statement, a question.
- Two great ways to start your introduction are you know how or have you ever? The best kind of question in your introduction is a rhetorical one that doesn't require a proper answer rather requires the person being asked the question to reach the answer internally
- Something along the lines of "you know how many people…" and then insert your typical clients claim here. "Many people suffer from this, many people struggle with that, many people try to find this."
- A good way to think about it is from the potential prospects point of view. I help clients do this, I help people who suffer this pain, I helped reduce the stress and frustrations around, I helped maintain these things for clients.
Four Styles of Introduction commonly used
#1 Mrs. Embarrassed
- The first style is from a person who is quite clearly embarrassed either about what they do or about the way they answer the question.
- You can see this in their delivery, it's in the words they choose to use, it's what they their eyes are doing, it's what their face is doing, it's what their hands are doing. You can just tell that person was embarrassed so our delivery is vitally important
- This is important to remember, communicating with people the spoken part of meeting someone isn't the detail most people remember it's mainly the non-verbal stuff we take in.
- Something along the lines of seventy or eighty percent of the details we remember from meeting someone is non-verbal.
#2 Mr. Overly Specific
- The second style of introduction that is most commonly found at networking events is the people who are far too specific with their introduction
- So, you've asked them what do you do and they will give an answer something like "I file tax returns", rather than saying Financial Services.
- What is happening in the above scenario is that the person is making it difficult to engage with you at the Tax Returns level unless I have specific tax returns experience. If that's not the case then I'm probably not your ideal client
- Whereas if we back up a couple of logical levels, if we go well it's not about tax returns, it's not about accounting, it's about financial advice.
- If we start from financial advice, that sort of logical level then we may go in many different directions, and we may end up talking about my last experience trying to put together a tax return but we don't know that.
- By labelling yourself as someone who deals with tax returns, you have reduced our ability to be able to find the connection if you start too specific.
#3 Ms. Jargon
- The third style of introduction is someone who speaks in jargon and the classic example of this is when they ask what do you do? They'll come back with something like well what I do is work with horizontally, vertically in matrix structural organisations. After doing the analysis at a range of levels, no one knows what you do, they've tried to tell you and you walk away feeling dumb.
- You walk away feeling silly, and you feel as though you should know because the words are in English but together they just make no sense. This is a very easy trap of people to fall into, is using too much jargon from their own industry.
- A good way to avoid using too much jargon in your introductions is to imagine that you've got to explain what you do to a thirteen-year old child, if you can do that, you're probably avoiding the jargon issue
#4 Mr. Selling 24/7
- The final style is the person who's always trying to sell something. These are the sort of people who even though they are talking to you, they are looking past you, they are scanning the rest of the room to see who else is there.
- They are not present with you and all they want to do is talk about themselves and sell something to you and you can just feel that you're sort of being pushed into a corner, they are not listening to you
- There is no interest in what it is that you do yourself, it's all about them. These people are very difficult to connect with as there is no way I can engage with the conversation
Evaluating your Introduction
A lot of people find themselves leaving networking events, on the drive home thinking: "gee I stuffed that one up, why did I say that, why did I forget that, I should've said…." But while this may help you find some areas that you need to work on it mostly puts you into a cycle of self-criticism and depression but Rod has a much better method for reviewing his introductions.
Think about your introduction in three key aspects, what did I do good? What did I find tricky? And if I must do that again what would I do differently?
For more useful information on Marketing and Sales strategies and practical information on how to get more leads, clients and sales listen to our Marketing Strategy Show Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, subscribe to our Marketing Insights Newsletter or follow us on Facebook or LinkedIn.