It’s Springtime… and that means making plans to attend some of our industry conferences… keynote speakers, breakout sessions, visiting the exhibits and (gulp!) networking. Yes, networking, that dreaded process of having to introduce yourself to a complete stranger and connect on some “business” level – to see if there’s the possibility of perhaps working on a project together at some point.
I once read that one of peoples’ biggest fears – other than death and public speaking (and death is third on the list) – is being at a party and not knowing anyone there. And isn’t networking at a conference a little like that? No wonder we hate it so much.
So, to minimize the angst of networking, rather than thinking of it as an emotional issue, think of it as a functional business process… and then just follow the steps. When you’re chatting with someone at a conference and they say, “So, what do you do?,” respond with this 4-step elevator pitch:
- What you do
- Who do you do it for
- What’s different about it
- Why they should care
As an example, here’s what mine might look like…
Hi, I’m Steve Henke. I’m with Harpeth Marketing and we help market research firms and their marketing personnel create and utilize marketing & sales plans. (that’s steps 1 & 2) We don’t just do this for our clients – we actually teach them how to do it, so they can be successful long after we’re gone. (that’s #3) These plans and processes give our clients a distinct advantage over their competitors, most of whom do marketing by the seat of their pants! (and that’s #4)
By the way, the response you’re looking for immediately after giving your elevator pitch will be something like, “Really! Tell me more…” or “That’s interesting… how do you do it?”
One other thing… make sure to give yourself a goal for networking. For example, “I’m not leaving here today until I’ve met and qualified (and gotten a business card from) at least five prospective clients.” And then just go do it! See… now wasn’t that easy?
A clear, compelling elevator pitch can be a real competitive advantage.