When people attend networking events, they do so to gain something: referrals, exposure, connections and, of course, the opportunity to grow their business. At all these events, you find the expert networkers, who know how to work the event to their benefit, and those who believe leaving with a fistful of business cards makes their time worth the effort.
Let’s focus on our group of experts to see what they know that we might not. The expert networkers know that relationship building is so much more important than that fistful of cards. And they tend to have their elevator pitches down pat. That’s the 30-second gem that defines your business or service and can be given in the time it takes for an elevator to get from one floor to the next – hence the name. Remember attention spans aren’t that long. Don’t bore or lose your audience with too much information about yourself or your business. Short, sweet and to the point will do it for you. And always be sure to include your unique selling proposition. What makes you, you, and different from your competition?
But here is something even the expert tends to forget. The owner and, probably, the marketing director know their company’s unique selling proposition by heart and use it daily. But what about the rest of your staff? Your receptionist is the first point of contact with customers. That person needs to be able to know it, remember it, recite it. So does the accounting department, the sales team, and every other person in the company. In a previous job, I quizzed 10 people on my staff. Only about six could articulate our unique selling proposition. It got worse when I asked around other departments. I wrote it down, posted it in everyone’s office, and, suddenly, we were all on the same page and totally engaged with taking our company to the next level of success.
If you are looking to invent your pitch or want to try out your tried and true favorite, there are many established networking groups throughout this area. However, there’s one favorite of mine, which meets right down the hall from my office. Every Wednesday at the chamber from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., we host a brown bag lunch – meaning bring your own lunch. Called “The Exchange,” we bring together local area business owners and marketers who join us weekly to share their mission and vision. In addition, we’ve built a network of partners who keep an eye open for new opportunities for each other. Networking is most effective when it is mutually beneficial.
As we say at The Exchange, we prefer doing business with people we know. Let us get to know you, and we’ll all grow our businesses together.
Lynne Conlan is Executive Director of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce. Call her at 813-634-5111, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.