How to prepare for your next 'speed networking' event
How to prepare for your next “Speed Networking” event
Congratulations on signing yourself up to a speed networking event!
And even bonus points for wanting to be prepared, let’s see if we can help. The way you introduce and present yourself provides people with a first impression of you. Most people begin forming an opinion of you within 3 seconds and these judgements can be difficult to modify.
When we introduce ourselves to someone, we’re saying we’re interested in establishing some sort of ongoing rapport for mutual benefit. There are 3 parts to our introductions:
- the visual hook
- introducing yourself
- moving into conversation
Overall you will need to keep in mind how to divide your time so that you can get through the meeting with enough time for you to speak, the other party to speak and then to have a quick chat.
For instance, if it is a business speed networking event with a format of five minutes each session make sure that you have enough to say about yourself, your business and products/services to last two minutes. This would give your counterpart the same amount of time to present themselves. And any remaining time time can be spent in open, free flow conversation.
Make sure that you know what you are going to say and that you have plenty of whatever marketing materials that you need on hand. If you plan to show or demonstrate something you should make sure that it is the proper length to match the meeting format and that it is ‘at the ready’ when you sit at the table.
During a speed networking event it is extremely important to be well prepared, efficient and goal oriented.
There is very little time for making a lasting impression in contrast to other networking sessions, so we need to use all the senses. The first is the visual impression, appart from the obvious of being well groomed, you can use this opportunity to have visual hooks so people remember to associate you with your business. Do you have a branded shirt or hat? A business branded name badge? How can you embody your business brand – for example what are the main colours in your logo – can you use that as the basis of your outfit? What other clues can you give people as to what industry you are in or what skills you have. Get creative!
Also, don’t forget to bring a stack of business cards and preferably a one-pager that clearly describes your company and what your offerings are.
Your introduction should tell people who you are and it should encourage people to engage with you. You need to sell yourself and feel confident while doing so because this will put others at ease.
When introducing yourself, apart from your name you should consider including:
- your role or title
- your business, trade, or industry
- a brief description of your business
- a ‘memory hook’ (quick, ear-catching phrase that people are likely to remember)
- a benefit statement of one particular product or service you offer.
The length of your introduction will depend on the circumstances of the introduction. It shouldn’t need to be long, and it’s possible to combine certain elements, such as your business and your benefit statement.
If you are struggling with the memory hook and benefit statement you can refer to the One Sentence Pitch this is a handy guide on how to package your business up so all the core elements are covered in one sentence.
Alternatively, you can try The Message Map – it’s another great tool to help you formulate your pitch in under 15 seconds.
The message map is comprised of two parts:
1. A headline. The headline is the most important message your audience needs to know. Fill in the rest of this sentence: “If there’s one thing I want you to know, it’s ______.” The answer is your headline. Remember, it’s the single most important message you have. Keep it to under 10 words.
2. Three supporting points.Three is a powerful number in communication. In short-term or “working” memory, we can only remember about three things. Great writers often stick to the rule of three. Support your headline with three messages. If you’re pitching a product, show me three features that will benefit my life. If you’re pitching an investment, tell me three ways I’ll make money on it. If you’re launching a new initiative, give me three reasons to support it.
Always remember to speak clearly and smile, making eye contact with the person you’re speaking to. Using a bit of humour can put people at ease, but remember that certain types of humour offend.
This doesnt have to be a big task, it’s just a moment to actually pause and think about why you are doing it.
Yes it sounds like a good idea and a fun thing to be a part of, but what do you imagine will be the specific benefits. Ponder these questions:
- What is your goal in being there?
- Who would you really want to meet?
- Which participants could theoretically benefit you most?
- Which of the attendees could use your products or services or know somebody else who’d be a good fit for you?
Write all of this down and that makes up your game plan.
After the Event – Next Steps?
Consider these options:
- Send a follow up thank you and good to meet you email.
- Add the new contacts to your CRM. If you don’t have one – start one!
- Compare the new acquaintances to the goals that you set for this event and determine how they fit into it.
- Give your potential prospects time to settle then contact them again to find out what is going on with them, to give them an update of what is going on with you and to see if there is a way to move forward. See Scotty & Courtney’s workshop presented during the Coffs Coast Small Business Festival on How to Prospect for New Clients to find out more about this concept.
What ever you do, do something to follow up. This is where most people will get stumped. If you follow up then you will be ahead of the game.