Smart Guide to Networking

Top Tips Networking _ Suzanne Shaw Consulting

‘What line of business are you in? – a typical question you may expect to be asked in either a social or professional setting.  Are you able to answer it simply, smartly and confidently?

It’s important to be able to articulate clearly what you do for a living. Each time you are out and about, whether in a social or business setting, you have the opportunity to meet someone who may introduce you to a new idea, business or potential client. Be prepared. Have your pitch word perfect and ready to go.

How do you become pitch perfect?  Start by developing a short introduction that defines you professionally. It should clearly articulate your business, what you do, type of clients served and sectors you work in.  Often called an elevator pitch, it should be no more than 30 seconds, enough to give a memorable sense of who you are.

Tone is important. It should be conversational. Avoid jargon. Make eye contact. Be yourself!

It’s a good idea to write down what you plan to say. Say it out loud and critically evaluate it. Better still, ask somebody else to do it for you; someone who knows you and your business. Is it up to scratch?  Does it adequately describe what you do?  Do you sound natural? Does it flow? It’s useful also to write down a list of the services or products you provide or typical projects you get involved in. You may be surprised by the depth of your business offering and the extent of your experience and expertise. While you definitely won’t have the time in your circa 30 seconds to mention everything you have ever done, it will serve as a good reminder and provides lots of material as the conversation develops.

You should think of your ‘elevator pitch’ as the ‘conversation opener’. Hopefully it will lead to a conversation and be prepared to answer follow up questions. Tone is important. It should be conversational. Stay away from buzzwords or jargon specific to your industry or profession that may alienate your listener. That’s not the idea.

Business can come from unexpected sources. You can meet potential clients in sports clubs, teams you belong to and the charities that you’re active in, social settings. These networks are made up of people who have businesses, careers and contacts. Ask them questions and be ready to talk about yourself! Find a few well-chosen, concise words that sum you up best and practice them until you are pitch perfect!

About the author: Suzanne Shaw, MBA, is an independent marketing professional with 20 years’ experience in developing and implementing business development, marketing and communications strategies working in a wide range of sectors and businesses, from startups to SMES and large corporations.