When people attend networking events, they do so to gain something: referrals, exposure, connections and, of course, the opportunity to grow their businesses. 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 who you are and your company different from your competition.
But here’s something even the expert needs to remember. You and probably the marketing director know your company’s unique selling proposition by heart and use it daily. But what about the rest of the staff? Your receptionist is the first point of contact with customers. That person needs to be able to know it, remember it and recite it. So does the accounting department, the sales team and every other person in the company.
In a previous job at a television station, 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. The idea is very simple but often overlooked.
If you’re looking to invent your pitch or want to try out your tried-and-true favorite, there are many established networking groups throughout our area. However, one favorite of mine meets right down the hall from my office. Every Wednesday, the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce hosts a brown-bag lunch called The Exchange from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. We bring together local area business owners and marketers who join us weekly to share their missions and visions. In addition, we build 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. See you there, and don’t forget to bring your lunch.