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Networking is simply human interaction and it has been with us since the beginning of time. These human interactions are really just the relationships we have with one another. How we connect. Some connections are passing. Some connections are more lasting. Some connections are seemingly lifelong.
Given this, networking is, more or less, really just human behavior. Talking. Listening. Understanding. Being empathetic, encouraging, inspiring, smiling, laughing, and being a friend. Thus, all human behaviors involving other people are relationship-based and is networking.
The wonderful thing about human behavior is that there are patterns to it. While the patterns may not be perfectly predictable – as you might find with a chemical reaction or a physics experiment – there are patterns generally there.
Whenever there are patterns, however, there is curiosity. And whenever there is curiosity, you will find people of science trying to explain the patterns through studying, observing, and examining them.
Human behavior involving our relationships is no different. The social sciences – sociology, psychology, and economics, just to name a few – for years have examined how humans relate to one another, both personally and professionally.
If you think about it, considering all these different options and orders, there are literally dozens (if not hundreds) of different 30-second commercials for you. So, do not stop at just one. Rather, select a handful of the ones that you feel are the most powerful for you and where you are the most comfortable saying them. Go with these.
Like anything, however, you will not get good at delivering your 30-second commercials without preparation, planning and practice.
Write Them: Using something as basic as a small note pad or 3×5 cards, neatly write or type your commercials for future reference.
Review Them: Once you have them written out, keep them handy so that you can practice or review them from time to time (just a few minutes each week is plenty).
Use Them: When someone then asks, “Who are you?”, do not hesitate. Have the courage to launch into one of your 30-second commercials (picking the appropriate one for the time and place).
Refine Them: Your 30-second commercials are always a work in process. You should look for ways to update them to make them more clear or better represent you.
No two people are the same and no two situations are the same. Thus, it only stands to reason that you have different messages to fit different situations and people.
Plus, if you consistently say the same thing, it eventually becomes “white noise.” Don’t fall into the “one size fits all” trap. Consider the following:
To summarize, make your 30-second commercials effective by having different MESSAGE BODIES, relying on different things to establish CONFIDENCE, and altering the REQUEST.
The order in which you present this information can vary. The above framework is a suggested guide. It is not an ironclad rule of thumb. Lead with something to inspire CONFIDENCE or, perhaps, your strong definite REQUEST, or even an amusing MESSAGE BODY.
It does not matter how you slice or dice the framework. The key is conveying the message with all the bits and pieces in about 30 seconds.
Now clearly articulating WHO you are, WHAT you do and WHY you are uniquely qualified is nice. However, in a sense, it is like having a souped up car with no wheels. To complete your 30-second commercial, you need to clearly state WHAT it is you need.
Now I hear lots of 30-second commercials and many of them have a weak finish. This is because they have a wimpy ASK or request. The best way to illustrate this is through an example … An example of what not to do. Do not make your HOW statement something like, “A good referral for me is someone in transition or not happy with the direction of their career.” Rather, here is a better example.
“If you know of someone in transition or not happy with the direction of their career please introduce me to them.”
The main difference between these two is that the second has a “call to action.” If you see or know of this, please send it my way … Or give me their number … Or invite them to my seminar.
The first example … A good referral for me is someone in transition or not happy with the direction of their career … gives the same information, but it leaves someone wanting to say, “That’s nice.”
It is like my kids. They will say, “Dad, I am hungry.” And my response is, “Thanks. That is good to know.” They know now they need to make a Strong Definite Request. “Dad, can you cook me Mac-n-Cheese?” They are asking for action, which is far more powerful.
Everyone has competition, including you. What makes you unique amongst your competition?
“Not only have I helped more than 100 people get into the right franchise, I also spent 10 years as a CPA … helping my clients know what they were getting.”
Who would a prospective franchisee prefer to work with? Just anyone or someone with this background? The answer should be obvious (at least the question was intended to be rhetorical). The point is that Inspiring Confidence (answering the “WHY you?”) is vital to your 30-second commercial.
There are few options to the basic introduction (as discussed in Part 3); it is largely void of creativity, right? That’s okay, because you can more than make up for it with the Message Body. This is essentially the heart and soul of your message and you can approach it from lots of different angles … You can INFORM the person or EDUCATE … You can even AMUSE or STARTLE them to get the point across.
You might be sitting there saying, “There is nothing to what I do.” Certainly, what you do may seem like basic vanilla. What you need to give yourself credit for (and convey in your messages) are all the different WHEREs and HOWs you do what you do. With that, you can add some creativity to your message body.
For example, a real estate agent may help people buy a house. There are lots of reasons when they do this.
• To get out of an apartment.
• To have a bigger house.
• To have a second house.
• To have a smaller house.
• To flip.
• To rent.
Each of these could be the basis for a completely separate message body. No doubt, you can do the same for your business or profession. Read on in Part 5.
Your 30-second commercial should address “who you are.” There is no magic to stating the WHO, the Basic Introduction. After all, it is (well) basic. Nevertheless, this part of the 30-second commercial is important.
In your Basic Introduction you need to clearly articulate your name (is it Mike or Michael … Kim or Kimberly). Then state your title and the work you are associated with. Each of these is important.
Now, nothing says it has to be in this precise order … You could achieve the same thing by re-stating the example “I am a franchise broker with National Franchising Group … I am John Doe” Or “I am with National Franchising Group. My name is John Doe. I am a franchise broker.”
Whatever the case, your 30-second commercial should address “who you are.” The next step is in Part 4.
To build a strong network of contacts that give you referrals, contacts and information, you need to have a concise, yet very compelling, 30-second commercial. The problem is that you have SO MUCH to say and 30 seconds is really not a lot of time.
• Start with a basic introduction for yourself (this addresses the WHO you are) …
• Add to that a Message (which addresses the WHAT you do) …
• From there, you need to Inspire Confidence or create credibility (which tackles the WHY you over all the other choices) …
• Then you wrap this up with a Strong Definite Request of what you need (this is the HOW they can help you).
Now, if you carefully draft each of these sub-parts and then piece them together with your own personal flair, you end up with a very effective 30-second commercial. For more, see Part 3.
Essentially, networking is about you creating a series of relationships (also known as a network). The end game for you is to get the network to help you. To get this, three things need to happen … Your network needs to KNOW you … Your network needs to LIKE you … And, your network needs to TRUST you.
Now, in establishing this KNOW, LIKE & TRUST, those you hope to add to your network NEED (not just WANT, but NEED) to have a firm sense as to…
• WHO you are (name, business name, basic product/service) …
• WHAT you do (along with when you do it) …
• WHY they should do business with you or WHY they should refer you as opposed to other options
• And, HOW they can help you (Who are people you want to be referred to? … Who do you want to meet? … What information do you need?).
In somewhere around 30 seconds, you need to effectively communicate all these things or lose (or at least risk losing) their minds to something (or someone) else. For more, see Part 2.
• THINK … On the way to the next event or when you have some idle time, work through in your mind how you envision your “small talk” going. Review the questions you will ask in your mind. See yourself listening, summarizing, and sharing.
• LISTEN … “Small talk” is all around you, every day. Listen to it, especially those who are good at it. See how they weave from one question to the next and how they transition to business, return to small talk and then exit the conversation.
• ENGAGE … Take every opportunity to engage in “small talk”. When you are in line at the store check out. With a server in a restaurant. With the receptionist at your next appointment. You will find the more you engage in small talk, the more comfortable you get at it.
The most important thing you need to do to be good at “small talk” is develop an attitude of belief. Periodically, you need to tell yourself, “I can carry a conversation. I can. I am good at it. I enjoy it. I like how it lifts the spirits of others. And I love what it is doing for my networking. I can carry a conversation.”