Most people seem to hate networking. That may strike you as surprising, given how often confidence and charisma seem to be necessary traits in a businessperson, but in my many years as a presentation coach, I have seen it.
And statistics have found that a huge 84% of people prefer remote meetings to networking face-to-face, suggesting that a mere 16% of business professionals enjoy meeting new people in person.
But networking is undoubtedly one of the most important extracurricular activities a person in business can do – statistics also show us that a massive 87% of jobs are filled via networking – something obviously has to be done to make it a more comfortable and successful experience for everyone.
After so many years of seeing how big an issue networking was for so many people, I decided to try to devise a solution that could work for anyone and be carried out easily. After much thought and trial, I came up with four simple steps to help people get off to a strong start at networking events and make the entire process an easier and more pleasant one.
Step One – Saying Your Name
Our names are probably one of the most inherently natural pieces of information we can offer, so it is surprising how frequently introducing yourself proves to be a stumbling block in intimidating situations. For this reason, rehearsing saying your own name in a clear and comfortable way is an important first step. You don’t want to have to repeat yourself, or for people to not hear or remember your name because you didn’t get it out clearly enough.
Step Two – Keep It Simple
Engaging people with your elevator pitch depends heavily on keeping it succinct and avoiding embellishment. You may feel tempted to finding a way to making your work sound more exciting than it is, but this is not going to fly in a professional environment, and is likely to lose people’s patience and attention very quickly. For example, I could swan into a networking event and announce myself as a Voice Unlocker, but this wouldn’t intrigue people, it would confuse them, and cause them to doubt my attitude. So a short, clear introduction along the lines of “I am a presentation coach” communicates my skills and purpose quickly, allowing others to deduce whether or not my acquaintance could be of use to them.
Step Three – Identify Your Niche
An important part of your elevator pitch must help others decide where you fit into their network, if at all, so having introduced yourself by name and role, bring these details together by explaining your specialism. For example, I might say, “I specialise in working with technical experts who consider themselves to be introverted.” Then, in a few short sentences, I have identified my purpose in the working environment, and given others the tools to calculate whether I am a worthwhile contact for them, and vice versa.
Step Four – Indicate Your Ethic
Now you’ve wrapped up your introduction, you want to put a big spirally ribbon on it like you would a present, in the form of a closing statement that addresses your work ethic and gives indication that you share the same values as the other professionals around you. Mine is usually along the lines of, “Everyone’s best version of themselves is always good enough.” You don’t have to inspire new schools of thought with your tagline, but it should be representative of you as a professional. This closing line indicates to others that you a driven decision-maker, and mean business. This is inevitably engaging.
By the time these steps have been followed, an introduction of a few sentences should be the result. You should be able to make the introduction comfortably in one breath, and as with any good advert, should prompt follow-up questions, which is what makes it a great way to start when networking. It works to break the ice and get a narrative of constructive dialogue going.
About Simon de Cintra
Simon de Cintra has over 25 years experience in business and provides coaching and mentoring for people who are looking to gain confidence with their public speaking skills or want to learn how to lead and influence others.In 2006 Simon founded MyFirstTrainers® and has delivered workshops at leading business schools and internationally for major blue chip companies. Simon specialises in personal impact, influencing and persuading stakeholders and public speaking skills for introverts working in complex and highly technical environments.
His varied career inspired him to seek the formula behind authentic communication revealed in his new book Unlock Your Business Voice – How to Speak As Well As You Think (£12.99, Rethink Press). On-sale February 2018 from Amazon at £12.99. To keep updated visit http://www.myfirsttrainers.com/author/simon/