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Have a message strategy (elevator pitch)
When connecting with others, determine their interests and establish a
rapport before delivering your branding statement. What is an elevator
pitch? Imagine you are entering an elevator and the president of your
company, or the potential client you have been trying to reach for
months walks in. You basically have about 30 seconds until you reach the
third floor and the other person walks away. Within these thirty
seconds you will want to introduce yourself politely, share VERY briefly
who you are and what you do, and give the other person your business
card. Remember - people want to know 'what's in it for them'. You simply
want to make an impression, hopefully a good and memorable one, NOT a
sale! Be patient - it may take bumping into that person a few times over
the next couple of years before they feel comfortable to refer someone
to you or even do business with you.
Ask yourself and your friends "How many celebrities,
millionaires, C-level executives, gatekeepers, and influential
people do you know? How many of these individuals know you by
name? Remember - The key to success is not what you know, or who you
know, it's who knows you! It's not that these type of people are
better than others, but they tend to be CENTERS OF INFLUENCE!
People usually listen to whatever they have to say, and attend events
they appear at. They can make a phone call and make things happen,
without having to explain themselves much, simply because their
reputation, position, etc, allows them to.
Example - we all know who the president of the United
States is. The question is - does he know who YOU are? A recommendation,
or even an acknowledgement of your presence, may make that slight
difference to 'get your foot in the door' for your next opportunity!
When you meet such individuals, take advantage of the opportunity to
make that first good impression.
The best sound people like to hear is their own name.
It's flattering when strangers recognize you, by name. It can also be
very frustrating and embarrassing when you don't remember someone else's
name. A simple tip to remember another's name is to repeat it in your
mind, and out loud when acknowledging the person you are meeting. It is
also very important you make an effort to pronounce the person's name
correctly. People will appreciate it and better yet, they may remember
you too. Please DO NOT try to shorten or mispronounce someone else's
name - it is very disrespectful and annoying. Ethnic names could be
difficult to pronounce, but not impossible. Make a decent effort, and
others will appreciate you for it.
example - often people have a difficult time pronouncing my name, Cesar
(Ceh - sar). It's not Cecil or Ceyzar, or Ceaser! Some people do not
care to show any courtesy or make the slightest effort to pronounce my
name correctly. I will then politely correct them and most people are ok
with that. Occasionally I have politely mispronounced their name
awfully (example: Larraay vs Larry) just to show them how it feels. Some
people understand, others will never 'get it'... Do you think I will
care to refer them to someone else or even do business with them? I
Your body language is very important
How you present and receive business cards could make or break the
initial impression. Treat the business card as a very valuable and
fragile document. It represents YOU on a small piece of paper. Present
your business card to another with respect and dignity - hold it with
both hands, and the text on the card should face the person you are
speaking with. Your body language can often say much more than your
words. Try tossing your business card to another and see how they react?
Likewise, when you receive a business card, you should receive it as if
it were very valuable, in both hands, read it, and then acknowledge and
thank the person giving it to you. In Asian cultures, you would bow
(even lower for higher-ranking individuals) when you receive a business
card. To not do so would be viewed as extremely disrespectful.
Be effective with your time and money
Time is money, and your time is valuable. Too many times we miss out on
excellent opportunities to grow our business, meet our next employer,
client, or that special person in our lives, simply because we are NOT
effective with our time and resources. Likewise, many networking events
unfortunately seem more like friend reunions than business mixers.
Before you attend ANY event, ask yourself what your
goal is. Do you want to meet new people and grow your personal and
professional network OR do you want to visit with your friends and
Networking is mostly about making the initial contact.
Developing relationships and growing your business happens when you
follow up with the persons you meet! We highly suggest you acknowledge
your friends and devote more time to meeting new people. You could
always meet up with your friends before or after the mixer. You may not
always have that second chance to meet you next best client.
Approach as many people as possible at an event,
especially the individuals who are standing by themselves. It is usually
easier to approach an individual than a group already engaged in a
conversation. As mentioned before, welcome them, say 'how are you
doing?' The rest is easy.
How to approach a group already engaged in a
conversation - just stand there and when you get eye contact with
someone, simply introduce yourself. If the group is 'cliquey' and
'closed in' and not approachable, show some dignity, and walk away! Why
would you want to connect with people who are closed off at a networking
event? Whatever you do, please do not interrupt them - this could
backfire badly for you.
Should You Join a Networking Group or Organization?
Note - many networking organizations and business referral networking
groups charge membership fees, and meet regularly with the same 90-95%
of the same attendance. People in some of these groups repeat their
elevator pitches each time they meet (with the same people) - very
boring and annoying! They claim they are developing relationships with
each other, over a long period of time. How much time do you need to get
to know someone? It makes little to no common sense to keep meeting
with the same people (unless it is a group of friends) regularly!
Although you may get a substantial number of leads from a handful of
people, imagine how many more leads and income you will generate by
meeting MORE people!! Common sense is not always so common...
Remember - The main purpose of any business is to
grow. If your business or organization is not growing, it it NOT a
business, it is a hobby! Are you running a business/organization or
are you spending your time and resources on your hobby? Common sense
and statistics dictate your business will grow much more by meeting new
people regularly than by talking with the same small group. Do you want
to network and grow your business OR do you want to socialize with the
We highly encourage others to network
everywhere and as often as possible. We do not discourage others from
joining organizations, BUT we do suggest you ask the following
questions next time you consider joining a networking
organization, chamber of commerce, or leads group:
- How old is the organization?
- How large is the group / organization? How many members? How many
- How often do they organize networking events?
- How many newcomers (%) attend their events? (is it the typical
90-95% of the same people?)
- Is it truly a networking organization OR is it a venue for
business owners to socialize?
- How popular, well-known, respected is the organization?
- What kind of ranking on major search engines does the
organization's website get?
- What's in it for me? How will the organization help my business
- How will the organization's website help my business? What
resources does it provide?
- Does the organization's website have a business directory? (300
categories and a 4-line ad does not count)
- Will paying membership dues, or even attending their events be
worth your time and money?
- What will be your Return on Investment (ROI)?
Hold the sales pitch
No one likes to be sold to. Use a brief 'elevator pitch.' Do not make
long-winded sales presentations. Better yet - do not give a sales pitch.
Ask people how you may help them. If they are polite, they in turn,
will ask you how they could help you. You then briefly share what you do
and what you want (it's not a sales pitch when they ask you). You could
also offer to help them or be of help by giving them your business card
Many business owners distribute flyers. We distribute
invitations; same piece of paper, different approach. People generally
like to receive invitations - to attend or participate in an event, or
to change another's life (awesome approach for non-profits in need of
volunteers and funding). We will give someon a flyer and walk away. If
they show some interest, they will usually ask, what is this about? You
then have an opening to introduce yourself and share your elevator pitch
(after you ask them 'how may I help you?'). If they do not show any
interest, just walk away and approach the next person. It simply is not
worth your time and effort to talk to people who show no interest. There
are many more fish in the sea...
The best salespeople are the best connectors. You can catch more
flies with honey than vinegar. Offer
to help others, and in time (sooner than you could imagine), others
will refer new clients to you, simply because they like YOU, regardless
how great your product or service may be!
Make it a team activity
Invite others and they may help you maximize coverage at an event. Let's
do some basic math:
Following is how you could have a HUGE salesforce, for free! Next time
you attend a networking event, after the basic introductions, ask others
how you may help them. You hear them out, make some mental notes, or
write notes on the back of their business cards, and then share with
them what you do. Ask them what kind of people are they targeting or
looking forward to meet. Offer to introduce them to such people when you
meet them during the event. Likewise, ask them politely 'would you
do the same for me?'
They would have to be very rude not to do so! Follow this approach with
the next ten people you meet. Now you have grown your salesforce, for
free! You could sweeten 'the deal' by offering to pay a referral fee for
any business generated from introductions. Note - a referral is always
much more valuable than a cold call!
- How much would it cost you to hire and train a salesforce for
- How much money do you spend on advertising each month?
- How much do you invest in attending networking events each month?
- How much will it cost you to ask someone else 'How may I help
- How much will it cost you when someone offers to help you?
Remember - Give and you shall receive. What goes around, comes
others is fun too! You could act as a host at the next event you
attend. Sponsor the event and/or volunteer to help - you will gain more
visibility and new clients! Volunteer to greet people at the door - this
is one of the best ways to get noticed. Lead by example. Just do it!
THANK YOU for taking your valuable time to read this article. We hope
you find it useful. Please share it with others. We welcome your ideas,
questions, and comments, and we look forward to seeing you, your friends
and colleagues at our upcoming business networking mixers. See you
• Cesar Plata, Founder everyCircle.com,
408 352-5932, 408 239-9006 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org
by Cesar Plata, Founder everyCircle.com:
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