I’ve always been told that in any business, networking is your most important tool.
However, no one ever told me that the purpose of networking is to be remembered.
Keep in mind, I’ve started my first business when I was 15 – and I’ve attended countless networking / social events since then.
Networking started to become a chore because I
was doing it all wrong had the wrong mindset.
When someone asked me, “What is it that you do?” – my response in the past would be something like this:
- I’m the publisher of an import automotive magazine
- I’m the owner of an advertising agency
- I run a digital agency
And the typical response would be, “that’s cool” or “that’s interesting…” Conversation would usually end close to there – of course, after the typical, “How did you hear about this event?” comes the “Well, it was great meeting you, let’s exchange business cards, and stay in touch.”
Slight Change in Approach
Then slowly after years, I’ve tried to make it more interesting and about the results. My elevator pitch turned into something more like this:
- I help businesses become their market leader
- I help reposition a company’s brand
- I make businesses double their revenue
This approach above didn’t work half bad – it provoked people to ask, “well, how do you do that?” – I will then go onto telling a story about a client (result based). This approach made people interact. However, still not good enough.
Finding A Way to Relate to People
You can say all day what you do – but chances are, people won’t relate or care about your business. They don’t form that emotional connection of who you are, as a character. The same goes for businesses – selling the why.
So for over the past 2 years or so, I look at networking completely differently. I am not there to sell my services, I’m there to build a relationship and more importantly, an image of trust / thought leadership.
Additionally, thanks to being part of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, I was able to attend a workshop with Sam Horn, intrigue expert, a world-renowned author, keynote speaker and executive coach. She’s brilliant – guru of gurus when it comes to pitching.
I have taken some of her coaching points and mixed it with mine to help me refine my technique which I’m going to share with you now.
3 Part Approach To a Connection
First, we must understand that to create a connection, you must be able to relate through one or all of the 5 senses: see, smell, taste, touch, and hear. So when someone asks me, “what do I do?” — I use a 3 part approach:
Part 1: The Question
Do you, a friend, or a family member run a business?
Why? We first need to make them think. Get them out of whatever they were thinking about before that preoccupied their mind. We setup the character.
They will typically answer in one of two ways; tells you yes, and who it is and what they do. Or they will simply just say yes. If it is the later response, you follow up with “for example?” to get the answer you need.
This next part is important: You must listen to what they have to say, and relate. For example, if they responded “Yea, my mom runs a bakery.” You should ask perhaps one more question like: what kind of bakery? How is it doing? Do you know what her strategy is to get more clients into her shop? Or even perhaps you have a family member that also runs a bakery. Make conversation. Don’t ask too many questions, 1 max, because you need bring it back to how you relate…
Part 2: The Delivery
“Well, I help small businesses like your moms’ bakery to get more customers by creating content that will drive an emotional experience to the brand. We create an overall strategy, design it, and then deploy things such as websites, microsites, online advertising, and social media.”
Why? You need to bring mom back into your pitch because that allows them to associate you with something tangible (remember the 5 senses)
Now that you have finished your connection (should have been less than 60 seconds), you would probably ask what he/she does, what’s next? This is great. How do we take it a step further to create better and stronger connection? This is where passion, hobbies and interests come in.
Not everyone loves their work, in fact, most people don’t. But they love whatever they are passionate about.
For mine, it is golf & fatherhood now. I can talk golf & baby duties all day. I also play a lot of sports, adventurous on food and entertainment, and I often enjoy board games and TV shows. So I won’t fall short of finding a connection somehow.
Part 3: The Personal Connection
So my approach would be to ask either: What are your aspirations? If you could do anything in the world, what would you do? Do you play/like sports? What are your hobbies outside of work?
More often than not, people are pretty excited to tell you about their passion. If they don’t quite give a clear answer, you could ask something direct like: Do you play golf? Do you have kids?
Since I can relate to those things, and most of the time – I would meet some people who is just as hooked on golf as I am.
You continue to meet other people throughout the evening, and very often you’ll run into each other again. Because the image you portray of being a genuine friend; they will not avoid you. It’s very likely they will introduce you to the people they are also talking to.
Why? A referred connection goes a lot stronger because if someone goes out of their way to introduce you to someone else, chances are – they find you interesting and would love to have you in their conversation.
Most of the time, we end up chatting about golf again or poopy diapers. Joy.
So what happens next? Did I make a sale? No. Not directly, but I sold them on who I am as a person and what I’m passionate about. I’ve built trust.
Friends, potential clients e-mail me nowadays to hang out, consult, new business opportunities, and have become clients because of this. A far greater genuine return than what I used to do.
In fact, as I write this article, I have received over 3 e-mails from potential clients asking me to go play indoor golf – and 2 people I just met about 2 weeks ago asked about my baby.
Business is done through relationship. Skill & abilities is mandatory, but secondary.
So take that step above the elevator pitch – connect on a higher level.
If you like the idea, share it with your friends. If you don’t, tell me why. My goal is to make networking more enjoyable and meaningful for you.