Listening Is the Key to Great Networking

When you go networking, you might get carried away.  Finally a chance to talk about you and your incredible business idea.  The trouble is, that networking is not about you.  It is about creating relationships.

Yes, you know a great deal about your business and how you started, what you love about it and so on. The trouble is that most people aren’t terribly interested in listening to your entire life story, particularly not the first time they meet you. Think: ‘appetiser’, not ‘all you can eat’. Get them interested and curious, not stuffed!

Reading a Networking Pitch from Long Notes

Are You Waffly UnVersatile?

  • You keep talking after your time is up
  • You tell people the entire history of your company
  • You feel like you’ve only just warmed up after 10 mins
  • People tend to drift away for coffee or the toilet
  • People start to check their watches every few words
  • You don’t remember what anyone else said
  • Those listening to you glaze over or look confused

The best networkers are listeners.  They listen to people.  They listen to hear ideas, to hear about problems.  They listen for joint ventures or possible referral partners.  They listen to do valuable research into their target market.

Cut to the Chase

During general networking (not the timed element), you only want to tease those listening.  If they are interested, they will say “tell me more!”  You want to say something like “I help people to save thousands of pounds a year on their mobile phone bills.”  Or “I help people who want to get more clients but who hate cold calling.”  Nothing else, unless you are asked.

During any timed networking elements, where you have between 40 and 90 seconds to talk about your business, you need to be concise.  BEFORE you go, time your pitch.  If it is too long, cut it down.  It shows a total lack of respect for other people on your table in your group if you keep talking after the time is up.  You had your chance, now shut up!

Your answer should be simple.  If you need notes, then how will anybody ever refer business to you?  It needs to be simple enough that someone who has heard it just ONCE can remember the key points and pass them onto someone else. Think Chinese Whispers.

Sanity Checks

You need to be able to explain in simple terms what you do. However obvious it seems to you, most of us don’t have a clue what job titles mean. So put it in terms a 12 year old child would understand: simple, succinct and obvious. Talk about:

  • The sort of problems you solve. A plumber solves leaking pipes – how would we know to phone you? What would we be experiencing/ seeing/ hearing?
  • The sort of clients you want – what sort of people are most likely to need your services? And NO, it’s not “anyone who breathes”
  • A success story that clearly illustrates why the person hired you, what you did (in a few sentences) and the impact it had on your client.

Ideally you want them to know more about you than your job title/ website URL. If they have a clear picture of the people you help, you are much more likely to receive a recommendation from them.

As Mr Network Andy Lopata says ….

It’s not just who you know, but what they say about you