By Rickey Gold, Rickey Gold & Associates, Chicago, IL, www.rickeygold.com
Thirty seconds. That’s all it takes for someone to decide whether to stay and chat with you or move on to someone else. Not much time....which is why you want to spend it wisely. Try this next time you’re at a networking event. See how long it takes you to decide whether or not you want to continue a conversation with someone you’ve just met. It’s a great way to illustrate what not to do.
Why thirty seconds? That’s all it takes for you to make a decision whether to stay and chat with this person or move on to someone else. The timeframe is a tough one for those who need more time to warm up, but in networking time can be at a premium. You want to spend it wisely.
So what is it that we base our “do or die” decision making on? A few things:
Appearance does matter. We’re not talking beauty, but professionalism. You’re making a first impression. Obviously, you want to make it as good you can…otherwise, why would you bother attending the event? Clothes that are appropriate for the event and a well-groomed appearance are a must.
Do you make eye contact when you’re talking to someone, or do your eyes keep darting away to see who else is there? Is this person just out to sell you something, or is this someone who is truly interested in meeting new people? Who would you rather spend time with?
Most of us are drawn to friendly people. If someone is warm and seems genuinely happy to meet you, you’ll probably respond in kind. Think of the kind of people you like to be with. Those are, no doubt, the kind of people you want to meet.
So, assuming that you’ve got the above traits covered, the next thing to focus on is your elevator speech. How do you describe what you do? Specifically, what do you say to ensure that the conversation continues? Consider this networking scenario:
“Hi Matt. So, what does Matthew & Associates do?”
If you’re a business consultant, you might say: “We’re business consultants for small businesses.”
That’s to-the-point. It’s also dead-on dead-end. A typical response: “Oh, nice.”
What if, instead, you said: “I show small businesses how to double their income.” Or “I work with clients who want toexpand their business to an international market.” The last two answers are designed to get a response such as “How do you that?” or “Tell me more.”
That’s your goal in developing an elevator speech. Not to be a conversation ender but a lead-in to further discussion. A teaser that makes someone want to know more.
Here’s another example:
A massage therapist might say: “I’m a massage therapist.” Or she might say: “I use massage therapy to help people dealing with chronic pain.” Or “I use touch to help people relax and live pain free.”
Determine what would lead you to ask for more information. That’s what you want to do as you craft your own message.
Speaking of messages….that’s really what your elevator speech is all about. It’s your marketing message…the one main thing about your business that you want people to remember. Ideally, you should have a 30, 60 and 90 second version, so that depending on the situation, you’re covered.
If a friend introduces you to someone and you’re both on your way to appointments, the 30-second speech may be all you have time for. But if you’re in a casual setting where time is plentiful, you should be prepared to talk further about what you do and how it benefits clients.
So don’t brush off the importance of having an elevator speech and a consistent marketing message. Do some testing at different events to see what kind of responses you get. Then keep working on it until you’re pleased with the result. It just might be the difference between acquiring new clients or not.