Dave, I’ve just started attending professional networking events and don’t really know how best to present myself and my company to the people who attend. Are there some tips or tricks you can share regarding how to talk about myself and how to make a good impression? I have the usual interests in partnering with others, gaining new customers and clients, etc.
I think that the best way to get involved at networking groups is to actually be in the front of the room, speaking. You only have to do that once and you’ll find that everyone will remember you and seek you out. Offer to talk about an area that you possess expertise, or even to just talk about how companies in your space should be evaluated before being hired, whatever.
Potential partnerships are born when people learn about you and your business and decide that they really want to — no, must — work with you so that they can be more successful.
There are other ideas about networking too, including one of my favorites, Dallas-based networking group Freedom Builders DFW‘s “Seven Ways To Be Productive”:
- Listen intently and deeply. Most of the meeting is not about you. It’s about all these people who can become real friends with whom you give and get referrals. Boldly offer the assistance and referrals that come to mind.
- When it’s your turn, stand up. You’ll have more energy and impact. Pass out your cards at the beginning of your 5 minutes so we can take notes on them.
- Teach us about yourself, your business, and good referrals for you during the first half of your turn. When you describe your business, a quick, punchy memorable phrase is best. Talk about yourself. We need to know YOU. The way to attract real people as friends is to be one.
- Don’t sell to us in the room. Talk about the people we should refer to you. Tell us why we can trust you with our friends, and that you’ll know how you can help our referrals who may have an interest in your product or service.
- During the second half of your turn, answer questions. Resist the temptation to give big explanations for your answers during the meeting; you can always get 1:1 after it for more details. Just briefly answer the question, and ask for the next question until your time is over.
- Tell us about your Mental Rolodex, the people you can refer to us and our friends in our Mental Rolodex. Tell us why you are a valuable business friend to make and keep.
- Say things like ‘If you’d like to help me, I’m looking for….’ or ‘My greatest challenge is….. and I’d like your suggestions.’ Use the table as your personal MasterMind. “Here is what a good strategic alliance for my business looks like.”
Those are a good starting point for your networking. The best way to get ahead, though, is to “just do it”. Go to lots of networking events, listen respectfully to the speakers, ask a few thoughtful questions, and hang around the “groupies” afterwards, being polite and pleasant.
And good luck!