Time to Sell

 

1 – Preparing for a networking event

If you dread networking events, you are not alone. Even the most self-assured of rainmakers can feel a pang of shyness as they walk into a crowded room wondering if there will be a friendly face.

However, an hour of preparation will have you walking in with confidence. Use this checklist to make sure you are ready to impress.

What to know

Impact and use

 

The venue

If you know where you are going you will arrive on time and not in a flurry of angst because you have been walking the streets looking for the meeting place. If it is an historic or significant location, research it as that makes a potential conversation point.

 

The guests

If you can get a guest list then look through it to see who you know and who you would like to know. The latter become your targets (see below). Use LinkedIn and Google to research any people you want to meet. Also make sure you know their businesses and their position in that business.

 

The sector

If the attendees are from a specific sector or business, make sure you have done some research and know:

§  Key players

§  Recent news in the sector

§  Any upcoming key events such as a merger

§  How the economy is impacting

§  How technology is impacting

 

Your questions

From your guest and sector research create a list of intelligent questions. If you show interest and intelligence then you get other people talking and you just have to listen. It will give you confidence and is guaranteed to make a positive impression.

 

The news

Make sure you know what is happening in current events. Cover business, the economy, politics, sport and recent news. If there is something in the news which is likely to be relevant to the guests, you should be able to speak about it and ask questions.

One caveat – know what is happening in politics and stay guarded about your own unless you are absolutely sure of the company in which you speak.

 

Your elevator pitch

If someone asks you what you do, they will soon glaze over if you speak for more than two sentences. This is not time to recite a CV. It is an opportunity to give a pithy response which leads them to ask another question.

Example 1: The Corporate Lawyer

Avoid: I am a corporate lawyer and I work on large transactions creating huge amounts of documentation to assist in the restructuring and merging of companies and how they manage their assets.

Instead: I put big companies together to make even bigger, more profitable companies.

Example 2: The accountant

Avoid: I work on company accounts creating huge excel spreadsheets of audited accounts in order to see what a business is making and how much corporate tax and VAT they needs to pay.

Instead: I help companies grow their profit.

Keep it short. Keep it pithy. Keep it interesting.

 

Your cards

Have a good number of cards to hand over. However, these are not to be handed out like sweets. (See our next BD hints and tips sheet).

 

Your notebook

As we will cover in subsequent BD articles, follow-up is the most critical part of networking. In an hour you can meet at least 15 people and you will not remember them all. Even worse, if you promise to get in touch, you will not remember why. So keep a note book of who you have met, a memory jogger of the conversation and anything you have promised. Nobody will be offended if you just write yourself a reminder in front of them. In fact, they are more likely to be impressed that you will make the effort and follow-through.

 

Your targets

Networking events should rarely be used as a sales meeting. However, if there is somebody there who you want in your network then it is a good opportunity to connect with them. A good target list is about 3 to 4 people. Make sure you have checked their LinkedIn profile and know what they look like. You can also check to see if there is anyone attending who might introduce you.

For every target, make sure you have a good, one-line reason for wanting to meet them. Make sure the reason flatters them and gets them talking.

Example: The CEO

Avoid: I wanted to meet you because I hear you have a huge budget for professional services.

Instead: I wanted to meet you because I was reading about your work on shifting your corporate culture. How is it going?

 

Your image

Remember you have 40 seconds to create an impact when you walk through the door and speak to your first person. Hot, sweaty, crumpled and bits of your lunch on your jacket is not going to do the trick. If necessary take a change of clothing to work. Walk in looking the person you want to be seen as.