If you don’t have the time to network the ‘old-fashioned’ way, what do you do?
To move in pace with our time-driven world, we’re required to do so at one speed: faster. In this vein, you may already have heard the term ‘speed networking’. It’s a very popular and fast growing method of networking and growing your business, and fits your time-scarce needs perfectly.
How does speed networking work? It works exactly like speed dating plus musical chairs, only with none of the romantic expectations. And the cheesy music.
At a speed-networking even, participants are paired up and each one has 2-5 minutes to introduce themselves and share what they do. At the end of the period a whistle blows, the pair dissolves, and each person moves on to another person from another dissolved pair until everyone’s had a chance to meet.
It’s the modern-day solution for people who have little time to meet others, and find networking difficult. It’s also an ice-breaker and launch spot for any general networking which can follow after the initial meeting, getting around the habit of talking only to people you already know.
So you’ve booked your place in a networking meeting, but what can you do to get the most out of the session? As with all marketing for your business, preparation is vital.
Bear in mind that you’ve only got a few precious minutes to get across what you do and more importantly the benefits of your product or service, so you really should practice what you are going to say before you go. What do you want to get out of the event? What is it about your company that you really need people to know? Based on your answers, you then come up with a sound-byte, so to speak, to promote yourself.
Below are some useful questions which might help you figure out what you want to say:
1. Who is your ideal client?
2. Which companies are you trying to get into?
3. What services do you offer?
4. What is your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
5. Why should someone choose your company?
You could also practice your 1 minute spiel, or “elevator” pitch (If you get into an elevator with some you recognize can help you with your business, and you only have a minute to talk to them, what will you say to convince them that you’re someone worth getting to know?)- a very quick way to get across exactly what you do in sixty seconds or less. If you get that right you’ll actually have time to spare on being specific about who you would like to meet and which companies you want to work with.
- If you’re seated opposite someone you already know, tell them something they don’t know about your business – have you set up something new recently, a new service or product? What do you currently need?
- If you’re opposite someone new, help them out. If they’re struggling to think what to say, ask them questions. What kind of questions? The ones above are a good start.
- Speak clearly – you can say more in 2 minutes than you think.
- When the other person is speaking, don’t keep talking about you – it’s your turn to listen.
- Be genuinely interested in what the other person has to say – as with general networking it’s all about building long-term relationships. Take time to see if you can help with any connections or advice your partner might need.
- If the organizers have allowed time after the speed networking for general networking then think about who you want to talk to again and how you can further the new relationship.
Speed networking, just like any networking isn’t rocket science – it’s thinking about what you want to say, being clear and to the point, listening carefully to the other person and seeing what you can both get out of it. And it really is great fun, so don’t be afraid to get out there and give it a go.
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