January 3rd, 2013
This is the year you’re going to get out and work it, whether it’s for your business or you’ve decided to get more involved in your local politics.
So you go to join the local Chamber of Commerce, or Rotary, and you go to their first social. Now what do you do?
First and foremost, you need a plan. Are you there to meet five new people? Are you there to pass out your card? Are you there to meet similar people and create a mastermind group?
An important thing to remember is that you’re not there to make friends. You are there to build rapport and come out of the meeting having achieved your goal. You may even have set up some appointments in the next few weeks. A great article is on the Daily Muse about the differences between networking and making friends.
But the truth is, they’re different—and it’s important to distinguish between the two. As former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright recently put it, “women are really good at making friends and not good at networking.”
Networking is about building rapport, having substantive conversations, and finding commonalities with other professionals in a limited amount of time. Yes, it’s an opportunity to connect with others—but it’s more about advancing your professional goals than it is about getting people to like you or boosting your social scene.
If you’re trying to make friends at every networking event you attend, you may be doing yourself a disservice. Here’s a look at some common networking scenarios that can veer toward friend territory, and how to make sure you’re approaching them the right way.
Have your elevator pitch ready. What’s that? In 30 seconds or less, tell what pain you’re solving. Michael Port wrote a book called Book Yourself Solid where he expanded upon this idea to turn it into a conversation that engages the other person.
For example, if you own a pizza restaurant that specializes in kids’ parties as well as offer a full line of gluten-free crusts and casein-free cheese, you might want to say something like: “You know how kids love pizza but there are so many food allergies out there these days? Well, I own a pizza parlor that provides pizza that can be made with allergy free ingredients. Do you know of anyone who has celiac syndrome?”
Business Week provided these tips:
- Keep It Fresh
- Always Be Prepared
Continually perfecting the elevator pitch ensures that you are always able to put your best foot forward as your business grows and changes and your client base expands. Click here to view our slide show of tips for developing that “perfect pitch.”