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Is your networking suffering from your interesting introduction?
One of the first things new business networkers are taught is the importance of having an interesting introduction, sometimes known as an ‘infomercial” or “elevator pitch”. But how well is your pitch serving your networking effectiveness?
By Brenda Thomson
One of the first things new business networkers are taught is the importance of having an interesting introduction, sometimes known as an ‘infomercial” or “elevator pitch”.
The idea is to ensure that you’re memorable and interesting enough for the other person to want to engage you in conversation and find out more about you.
So instead of saying “I’m an accountant” you might say “I help people save money”. Or instead of saying “I’m a financial planner” you might say “I make sure people can afford the future they dream of”. The idea is to create interest and further discussion around what you do.
And that is where I disagree!
You don’t want to create interest and discussion around what you do; you should want to know all about what the other person does. It is FAR more important to be INTERESTED than INTERESTING.
Showing an interest in others will make you a better networker in two critical ways:
1. IT SHOWS THE OTHER PERSON YOU CARE
Every one’s favourite topic of conversation is themselves. If you encourage the other person to talk about themselves they will love you for it.
There is no better way to win someone’s trust than to be genuinely interested in them (critical word there, GENUINELY).
No-one cares how much you know until they know how much you care about them. When you talk about yourself, you’ll be able to show your experience and knowledge, however, this should come later.
Being genuinely interested and encouraging the other person to talk about themselves is showing how much you care – a critical first step in building a long-term relationship. Networking is all about building long-term relationships. I have no disagreement with my associates about that.
2. YOU’LL BE BETTER EQUIPPED TO FOLLOW-UP WITH YOUR NEW ACQUAINTANCES
This is critical. The more you know about another person, the easier it will be to follow-up with them effectively.
After meeting someone new, you should be able to answer the following:
- Can you make an informed decision about how you should follow-up?
- Would it be of value to have a one-on-one meeting with this person, or would you be wasting both of your time?
- Can you help them in some way?
- Can you introduce them to someone who can help them?
- Can you introduce them to someone they can help?
And so on. Questions that can only be answered if you’ve talked about the other person and their needs, and not about yourself.
And let’s face it, as 95% of networking is never followed up, the odds are YOU will be the one following up.
Not everyone you meet at a networking event is going to be a good connection for you, or even someone you would want to work with. If you steer the conversation to be about you instead of them, you’ll deprive yourself of the opportunity to work this out; you’ll end up following up with them, only to later work out it’s not the best connection.
So stop talking about yourself and start asking about others to make more informed decisions before following up.
A FINAL WORD ABOUT YOUR INTRODUCTION…
I just wanted to mention one final thing about introducing yourself at networking events … This is very personal for me and perhaps not the case for everyone but I wanted to mention it anyway.
I hate game playing. Well I actually love board games and card games and party games, but I hate manipulative games. When someone says to me “I help people save money” I feel manipulated.
If someone tells me they’re an accountant, I’ll instantly understand what it is they do. I’ll be wanting to know if they’re the sort of accountant I might be looking for and if they’re an accountant I can trust (and if so, I’ll keep them in mind for when I need an accountant or when someone I know does).
I don’t want to have to first work out if they’re an accountant, a mortgage broker, a financial planner or one of the other myriad of professions that claim to help people save money.
I hate it when someone does it to me and I don’t like doing it. Please don’t play games with the people you meet!
So next time you’re at a networking event and someone asks what you do – ditch the pitch – it’s quite OK to be uninteresting. It’s far better to be clear about what you do.
If you’re an accountant, a mortgage broker or a financial planner say so, in as few words as possible, and turn the conversation back to the other person. You’ll be glad you did! And if you don’t like what you hear – then perhaps they’re not a person you’d want to build a relationship with anyway.
Until next time…
Articles in the Synergy48 Group Networking Resource Pack
How to create a networking plan
Where should I network?
Who do you want to meet at a networking event?
What are strategic partnerships and why should I care?
Seven steps to effective networking follow up
How to evaluate the effectiveness of your networking efforts
CEO and Founder, Synergy48 Group
Brenda has an honours degree in organizational psychology and a Graduate Certificate in training and development and she is an experienced trainer, facilitator and counsellor. She is a firm believer in mutual collaboration combined with a practical, hands on tools, strategies and systems as the most effective way to achieve real results in business.
Brenda has over 20 years of experience training in communication, team work, time management, productivity, organisation and strategic planning in large organisations. She is also the developer of the Business Benchmarking Toolkit used by Synergy48 Group members and clients to identify areas for improvement in their business processes.
Brenda is a sought after mentor, speaker and trainer in the areas of strategic partnerships and networking with a difference. She is passionate about actively giving back to the community. In addition to donating her speaking fees and a proportion of every Synergy48 Group membership to provide microfinance to help women in Malawi to start their own businesses, Brenda has climbed the Himalayas to raise money for Kids Help Line and helped lay a pipeline to supply water to a remote village in Tanzania.