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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 thinking, “There is nothing remarkable 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.
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.
You network to generate benefits from your life. In this episode of the Networking Rx podcast, Frank Agin, president of AmSpirit Business Connections, establishes that to get these benefits, you need to offer them first. Then he shares how to execute on this “give first” strategy.
Listen to the podcast at http://networkingrx.libsyn.com/networking-and-reciprocity
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.
Business connections at networking events are great. Whatever the case, do not churn the entire event away in a single one. Nothing says that you need to engage in a dozen different conversations over the course of an hour. Two or three is plenty. Remember this is not speed dating, rather, it’s networking (building relationships). Given that, you should develop some ways of moving on. As with anything else, honesty is the best policy.
• “Thanks for your time. I told myself I would meet three interesting people at this event. I have two more to go.”
• “There is someone over there that I need to connect with.”
• “Is there anyone here in particular you would like to meet? I would be glad to introduce you.”
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.
So to conquer the challenge of conveying lots of information in a short period of time, it is helpful to have a framework to work with. Here is an effective one:
• 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 a networking sense, the primary limitation to communicating all this (especially amongst people you are meeting for the first time) is simply ATTENTION SPAN.
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.”
Business connections at networking events are great. Whatever the case, do not churn the entire event away in a single one. Nothing says that you need to engage in a dozen different conversations over the course of an hour. Two or three is plenty. Remember this is not speed dating; rather, it’s networking (building relationships). Given that, you should develop some ways of moving on. As with anything else, honesty is the best policy.
* Thanks for your time. I told myself I would meet three interesting people at this. I have two more to go.
* There is someone over there that I need to connect with.
* Is there anyone here in particular you would like to meet? I would be glad to introduce you.
Remember, small talk is the warm-up that leads to the work out. The workout is talking business. To make this happen, eventually you need to transition from small talk to real business.
Be forewarned, however, this is not to suggest that you start to pitch them or set them up for a close. It merely suggests that once you have them comfortably engaged in conversation, you should ease into a more professional discussion of their business or your business.
For example, a nice segue might be, “Water skiing isn’t cheap! What do you do professionally to pay for it?”
Do not try to steer them. For example, a business coach, should not ask, “Do you use business coaches in your business?” A financial advisor, should not open with, “How is your 401K doing these days?” A promotional products person should not jump to “How do you use ad specialty items in your business?”
Do NOT push it. Keep the tone light and the sales probing to a minimum. If you do this right, you will have lots of opportunities to gather future business intelligence, pitch them, and close them. Remember, people do business with those they Know, Like & Trust.
Return To Small Talk
After the professional conversation has run its course but before the conversation ends, touch back on something related to your small talk conversation.
For example: “Great talking with you. Assuming, you don’t get laid up in the hospital skiing between now and then, I would enjoy continuing our conversation over a cup of coffee sometime.”
Why is this important? By returning to “small talk”, you have demonstrated that you were listening and that you remembered. More subtly, however, you are reflecting back to a part of the conversation when they likely delighted in your interest in them.
Again, small talk kick-starts the networking process. Small talk, however, is about getting the other person talking. This begs the question: What are good questions to ask in this process?
There is no magic. Planning, however, is paramount. Be like an attorney – prepare your questions before you ask them. In other words, have a small handful of questions ready to go. Each of these relates to the person’s life professionally or personally … Or something about their past.
From there, allow the conversation to take itself wherever. A few of these questions could include…
• What do you do? How long have you been doing it? How did you become interested in that?
• What are some of the projects or assignments you are currently working on?
• Are you from this area?
Yes – What part?
No – What brought you here?
• Outside of work, what occupies you? How did you become interested in that?
• What are some business or community organizations you are involved with?
These will give you a start. From here you might want to formulate your own series of questions. Again, there is no magic. It is simply a matter of planning on how you will get and keep them talking.