Networking: Making Your Message Heard

image: Ishka Michock

Networking is a set of mini-presentations sneakily disguised as a chat but don’t be fooled, you should treat every networking conversation as a speaking opportunity, a chance toget your message heard and more importantly, remembered.

Here are some tips for successful networking:

  1. The Hard Sell – At networking sessions you will meet a number of people who come up to you, foist their business card upon you and tell you why you have no choice but to hire their company. This is not what you should be doing at networking sessions, networking is about building up contacts that can help you sell your product. It’s about people hearing your presentation or pitch and telling their friends about it, because it’s the friends who will become your customers, if you put people off by being too aggressive then their friends will never hear about you, or if they do then they certainly won’t want to do business with you.
  2. Preparation and Practice – Even though you may only have a short amount of time to tell your potential contacts about you and your company, you still need to work out what you want to say, how you want to say it and practice it so that you sound confident and experienced.
  3. Know Your Audience – Don’t just walk into the room cold, find out who will be attending. Some events, like those advertised on LinkedIn Events, will have a list of attendees and look at the list and see which of the attendees will be useful to you, perhaps some will be technical and others will be less technical, this might mean that you can give a more technical mini-speech for the technical networkers and a layman’s version for everyone else.
  4. Slow Down – You meet a potential contact but you’ve only a short amount of time so you speak extra-fast to give them as much information as possible. Stop. Slow down. Find the your key message and information and say it within the first 10-20 seconds of your mini-speech, say it slowly and clearly so that even if this is all that you have the chance to say then your listeners will have a clear idea of who you are and what you can do.
  5. Keep Attention On You – One big mistake networkers do is that they distract their listeners from what they’re saying by handing out their brochures or business cards while they were speaking, this causes the listeners to do two things at once – look at the brochure and listen to you but not giving 100% to either. Don’t do this, give them your message, make sure they’re paying full attention to you and when you’re finished then give out your brochures and business cards.
  6. Me Me Me – Don’t talk about you, your company or your product, talk about what you’ve done or can do for your clients, give examples or stories. This helps your listeners imagine how useful and necessary you are.
  7. Make Them Want Your Business Card – Charm your listeners, entertain them, make them believe that you’re not there for business but just to chat and make friends, make them like you and above all, make them think “This is an interesting person, I want to keep in touch, I know people who might be interested in talking to him/her, I must get their business card”. This is what a good networking speech should do….