Few things seem to faze even regular networkers more than making their 60 second introductions count.
Those new to networking will often admit that the thought of standing up in front of an audience kept them awake the night before (don’t worry if that sounds like you by the way – a few nerves are normal).
Regular networkers will say they get bored with making the same introduction at every meeting - the bad news is that so do those hearing the same thing at every meeting!
Whether you are experienced or new to networking, the secret to making your 60 second count is preparation.
It's your 60 second commercial- use it effectievly!
The Sterling format is structured; the agenda is timed to allow all members and visitors attending, one minute to share three things:
1. Who they are
2. What they do and
3. The type of referral or connections they are seeking.
Whilst 60 seconds doesn’t seem a long time, in reality it is more than enough to get your message across – the key is to plan what you are going to say and to keep the message fresh at every meeting.
Have the right objective
The most successful networkers never ‘pitch’. They understand that networking is about building trusted relationships, not handing out business cards and pushing their product or service in the hope that someone in the room needs what they do.
There may very well be people in the room that you could do business with but the real power of building a network is the connections that other people have now and those they make in the future. Your objective is to help your networking colleagues understand how you help your customers so that they have you at the top of their mind when they meet people who might have a need for what you do.
You can’t fully achieve that in one 60 second introduction so you have to leverage that time to get people interested enough to know more.
Everyone’s favourite subject is…not you.
The best networkers help other people in the room to understand what they do and how they help their customers. The starting point for a 60 second introduction should be to help other people in the room understand how you help your customers or clients. Think about why you best customers buy from you and weave that into your introduction.
Don’t use industry jargon and don’t get into technical details that interest you but will just confuse other people.
Here’s what I have noticed about the best introductions I’ve seen with a few extra thoughts from me.
Story telling emotionally engages people. Use the first 30 seconds to tell a story about a client that you have helped since the last meeting.
If you can make it fun or share a problem you overcame, all the better. Giving an example gives people an idea of how your product or service is used in real time, provides a frame of reference, gives an idea of how others can use or refer the service and demonstrates how you deliver, potentially in a difficult situation.
Neuro science and behavioural economics prove that telling your story with an emotional angle will engage others – and 80% of buying decisions are made based on emotion. People use logic to rationalise buying decisions.
Prepare a script
You have invested time and money to attend a networking meeting, don’t waste the you 60 seconds by winging it. It’s nice to have breakfast or lunch and a chat, but if you want a return on your investment, you need to think a bit harder.
Think in advance about the message you want deliver and how you want to be perceived. In the advertising world, the words for a commercial is the copy or the script – become your own script writer or get professional help and write down what you plan to say. 60 seconds is actually quite a long time if you have something interesting to say. Watch good speakers, listen to radio or watch TV commercial – it is amazing how much information can be communicated in one minute. Learn the script – try not to read from it!
Be easy to buy from
Neuro science tells us that our brains are lazy. People take the path of least effort as their preferred option. Don’t confuse people with comments like ‘all the world is my potential customer’ – be specific and give concrete ideas about how others can use your products or service. No matter how obvious to you, don’t expect others to join up the dots for you.
Demonstrate genuine interest in others
Listen with genuine interest when other people make their introductions. Firstly, you may actually find that they have something to say that can help you and your customers. Secondly, why should anyone listen to you if you can’t be bothered to listen to them? If you don’t listen as other people speak you risk them thinking you are too self-interested and that can affect your credibility, particularly if you claim to be ‘customer focused’.
Don’t be shy
Nerves are normal if you are not used to speaking in public. Remember that you are with friends who want you to succeed.
Learn to look forward to making your 60 second introduction and enjoy the opportunity to engage people in what you do. If you aren’t having fun, you can’t expect your audience to enjoy it!