Business banter – Presenting at networking meetings
In this instalment of Business banter, Hilary Nightingale from UK Business Buddy shares her top tips for getting the most out of networking. >>
If you’re anything like us, you’ll be out on the networking circuit promoting your business to local groups and building relationships with like-minded independent business owners. But how do you get your message across in a consistent and authentic way, without feeling like your pushing sales?
It’s a common question – lot’s of business owners don’t want to sound pushy when they promote their business, and can quickly recognise a ‘hunter’ in the room too. We find the best way to talk about your business is with genuine passion and talking about your WHY (Simon Sinek’s, ‘Start with Why’ is a great read by the way).
All networking meetings give you an opportunity to speak for 45-60 seconds – some call it an elevator pitch – what would you say if you had no longer than an elevator ride with your next best client? Personally, we’re not keen on elevators, or pitches, but you do have to make sure your point comes across…
Before the meeting
Even before you arrive at your meeting (or log on) you will need to set yourself an objective. This is how you can measure the success. For example, your objectives may be;
- Be brave enough to attend a meeting for the first time
- Get two 1:1 meetings
- Get feedback on a new product
- Find a new supplier.
Knowing what you want to achieve will not only help you determine if the meeting was a success, but it will help you focus on making your point and effective conversation.
Given a formal 60 seconds, we recommend you start with your name and business and a quick overview of what you do, ‘Thank you for having me today, I’m Hilary Nightingale from UK Business Buddy and we save independent business owners money on their customer card transactions…’
By the time you’ve finished speaking, that quick overview will have been forgotten, so it’s useful to end with a similar tag line, ‘think of us as your meerkats for merchant services’.
The middle can be whatever you want it to be, according to your objectives – a poem, an example of how you’ve helped your best customer, a testimonial from someone you’ve helped, examples of people you’ve been speaking to or an overview of your product or website. All this educates your group about who you help and how.
Then, ask to be connected with someone you’d like to help. This is really important because you need to help people understand how they can help you. If you listen to someone speaking week after week, but don’t realise you’re friends with someone they’d love to speak to, how can you ever connect them?
As a guide, 140 words takes around 60 seconds to say clearly…
5 -10 minutes
As a member of a group, you may be given the opportunity to speak for longer and this is where you can introduce PowerPoint or props!
Planning is key here, so try splitting your time into segments;
- The meaty bits
Again this is about educating people about you, your business and how they can help you grow, so present in that order. Business is founded on relationships so there’s nothing wrong with including a bit about yourself – but we’re here for business, not to learn your life story and read your CV off a slide!
The meaty bits can include your USPs – unique selling points; what makes you different from the rest? And don’t say you care, or you deliver on time, or are qualified – of course you are and so is everyone else! Talk about what led you to this business, your story and WHY you do what you do. Oh, and you can tell them what you do and show examples or give out samples.
In summary, tie it all together with who you help; what type of people or businesses they are, how you can ease their pains, and why they need you. Ask for introductions, mention your LinkedIn profile or social pages and if your meeting is online, you can put this important stuff in the chat box too so you can start building connections.
Then close with your thanks and memorable tag line…
After the meeting
There’s a phrase in business that goes something like this: ‘The fortune’s in the follow up’, meaning you won’t gain anything if you don’t contact people after the meeting, or go through with the actions you’ve set yourself.
Did you want to get two 1:1’s? Then find the attendees on LinkedIn or email them and ask for a meeting to learn more their business.
Did you want to share a new product? Again, find them on email or social and tag them in to a promotional post about it.
Networking is primarily about building relationships, and social media is an extension of that, so take the opportunity to tell people about you and your why, and connect outside of the meeting…
If you have any great examples of how a presentation went, please share with us, we’d love to hear your stories!