There are a variety of networking meetings and events where people can go to increase visibility, meet potential customers, and grow their networks. Here are some tips that will help you avoid looking like you have no idea what you’re doing in a meeting of professionals.
- When you go to a networking event, remember that the people at the event are not your prospects. They are your gatekeepers. You are not there to make them into your customers; you are there to transform them into your sales force.
- Don’t go in looking to sell to the people around you. Think about the kinds of people they may know or interact with. Who might be on their email list? Sure, you’ll do some business with the people you meet, but your goal is to create business for them and for yourself by putting your networks together.
- Here’s the real truth: most people at a professional networking meeting do not actually care about your product or service no matter how revolutionary it is. This goes for your pill, dietary supplement, exercise program, amazing card trick, electric skin zapper, fruit juice, health product, or any other cool thing that you have or do. They care about THEIR cool things that they have or do. You have to break through this by being clear, specific, and interesting.
- If you get a chance to make a 30 or 60 second speech, make it pithy, memorable, and focused on helping attendees connect you to other people they know. Don’t tell the people in the room how long you’ve been in business. Don’t tell them why you think they should buy your product or why they should even be excited about it. Don’t say your target market is “everyone” or “anyone.” In your short speech, tell them who you are and what you do. Tell them the specific types of clients that you are looking to meet – describe your best clients in the last 6-12 months. And tell them how you would want them to describe your business if telling others about it. Be charming, grateful, confident, and bold. Speak up so you can be heard.
- Set your phone on vibrate or turn it off. When it rings and you reach down to turn it off, most people will politely say, “Oh, that’s okay.” They are lying. It is not okay – everyone there is, in fact, disturbed that your phone went off and interrupted whomever was speaking at that moment. Even if their own phone rang earlier, they are still ticked at you. Put your phone on vibrate or turn it off. Keep it off the table where it will rattle the whole table. Put it in a pocket, hold it in your lap, put it in your purse, or just turn it off. You may need to be contacted during the meeting – that’s fine. Your task as a competent, considerate networker is to find a way to be discreet.
- If you must take a call, don’t answer it until you are out of the room. If your phone does go off and you must take the call, don’t answer it as you are standing up to exit. Yes, it is 10% considerate of you to excuse yourself to take the call, but it is 90% inconsiderate of you to begin it with “Hello? Uh, I’m in a meeting – let me step out” as you step over and around and through chairs to get to the door. If you don’t want to drop the call, click the answer button on the way out, but don’t speak until you have actually left the room. They’ll hear that you’re moving and wonder what is going on, but you don’t say a word. If they hang up before you can answer or speak, you can call them back in the hallway.
- If there is a microphone, use it. Yes, use it even if you don’t want to. Yes, use it even if you have a loud voice and you think it carries well. Yes, use it even if for your whole life, everyone has told you that you don’t need it. They are wrong. If there is a microphone there and it’s working, you need to use it. It makes weaker voices strong enough to be heard. It makes stronger voices even more understandable. It helps to give your voice authority and pop that help people to pay attention. If others are using it and you don’t, then the whole feel of the meeting changes unnecessarily. Most people don’t use a microphone because they are afraid of what their voice sounds like when amplified. Get over it. Use the microphone.
- Hold the microphone closer to your mouth. Just because you are holding it doesn’t magically make you heard. You can’t hold it at your chest or a foot away from your mouth – you actually have to speak into it for it to work properly. Hold the microphone about 5 inches from your mouth and speak into it. It’s okay if you’re louder than the person before you. He didn’t know how to use it properly and now you do. Don’t gesture with it, point at other things with it, or wave it at other people. If you need to gesture, use your other hand.
- Don’t grip the microphone at the very bottom. Many wireless microphones have their transmitting hardware in that area. Grasp the microphone around the middle of the barrel.
Etiquette and Elevator Speeches
Stay tuned for more tips in the next post!