Networking is one of those things that can require a lot of effort, and yet has the potential for a huge payoff. During the New England Museum Association Conference a few weeks ago, I used much of my time looking up attendees, setting up meet and greets and then following through. That meant introducing myself, telling my story, listening and sharing thoughts on the state of the industry.
I had to pull out a skill I hadn't used in awhile; a simple blueprint to maximize your impression and what you get out of the conversation: Ask It, Show It, Know It.
It may seem counterintuitive when you are trying to make a solid connection with a potential business partner, but your goal should not be to brag about your resume, but rather to ask questions and soak up as much information as you can. Ask about their work, their strengths, their challenges, their successes, what they do when they are not working, what do you have in common. A natural opening will come soon enough, and then you can tell your story. Really? Yes. Good question.
Learn as much as you can about the person you want to meet. Look online, talk to peers, read their bio in the program. You want to come to the conversation armed with relevant talking points and to demonstrate a competence that will get their attention. Remember, it’s networking so you don’t just want to make a good impression on them, but that they will remember you when talking to their colleagues.
"Hey, you know who would be perfect for this job? The woman I met at the conference!"
This is the time to telegraph your passion. Most people who network want to make an industry connection, collaborate, increase their knowledge, find a mentor or a protégé, or simple talk shop. Tell them why you love your job and what personal satisfaction you get out of it. Love your work, your projects, your goals…and let it show.
So, the next time you are at networking event, or a party, or a conference overwhelmed by how to make first contact with important people – just remember it’s as easy as Ask It, Show It, Know It.
Everyone has heard of an “elevator pitch.” It’s the 30 second speech you use to convince Bruce Willis you’re not trying to take over Nakatomi Towers. Also, that you are smart, capable and have something to offer.
You might use an elevator pitch when you are looking for a job. But, you can also use it when you are already employed and selling your product or services. Yippee-kiyay.
There can be a lot riding on it, (or you could just be going to the 35th floor) but writing a power thesis about what you do best is actually a great exercise even if you aren't searching for clients or fighting Alan Rickman. It gives you a chance to cement what’s important to you, what you want and what separates you from the competition.
There’s plenty of good advice out there:
When it comes to wordsmithing, “keep it simple.” Use this template to craft a short and elegant elevator pitch.
Here’s an example of an elevator pitch (from a highly successful business man!) using the formula above. He tailors it to any situation, depending on what angle he is working with the potential client.
This is what I do
"Hi, My name is David Marino, I’d like to introduce myself. I design and lead interpersonal communications workshops for team building, customer service, presentation, professional development and anywhere you need a really strong human to human connection. I’m also a professional actor and director."
This is what we do
"At DLM we use the same communication principles actors use – vocalization, physicality, and passion and apply them to communicating with your clients, customers or peers."
This is why we're different
"It’s a really engaging and unique approach that allows people to learn universal principles that apply in every situation where ever clear communication is required. Every workshop is designed to give practical real-world tools to the participants, so they can start using what they learned right away."
This is why we’re awesome
"Because I’ve got 20 plus years of theater experience and have worked with all kinds of for profit and non-profit organizations, I’ve been able to help a huge range of companies improve their communications skills and connect more with their audiences. I’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies like The Universal Bank of Switzerland, museums like Chicago Children’s Museum, and other large non-profits like the Boston Public Library.
What kind of presentation or customer service does your company do? I’d love to set up a time to talk and see what I might be able to do for you."
Make sure it sounds like you. Say it out loud and work it until it sounds casual, but deliberate and authentic.
You can think of an elevator pitch as what gets you in the door. You don’t need to make a sale right then and there. You just need to be authentic and compelling enough to get the attention of that potential client.
“Welcome to the party, pal.” – John McClane