"You had me at hello," those famous words from the movie Jerry McGuire let Tom Cruise know that Rene Zellweger's character was hooked from that point and the rest of his talking was unnecessary. When in networking situations, many small business owners leave people with a slightly different feeling. If questioned for the truth, what would likely be said is, "you bored me at hello!" That is definitely not a great way to grow your business into a powerful name brand. Networking works, but not if you leave your prospects bored.
Networking opportunities are everywhere. You can find them at Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau events, not to mention when you are in line at the grocery store. There are even groups of people who regularly meet solely for the purpose of networking. Unfortunately, all of the networking opportunities in the world will not help grow your business unless people remember you and your company after you are gone.
Here are three strategies to avoid boring people during your next networking opportunity:
1) Gone in Thirty-Seconds - Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Any longer than thirty seconds for your "elevator speech" and you will be tuned out. People cannot sit through a thirty-second commercial without changing the channel on the television. Your business will be treated the same way. They will start thinking about what they need to pick up on the way home or other random thoughts. Many times, they are simply waiting for you to stop talking so they can try to sell you on their business. Your brand message must be short, simple and to the point. If you ramble too much, the person will start feeling like Charlie Brown in school - "wahwah, wah wah wah," "yes ma'am."
2) Red or Black - Pick a color. Roulette gives you the option of betting on red or black. If you bet red, you win when it hits on any red number. Winning is good. If it hits on any black number, you lose. Losing is not so good. However, when you "hedge" and bet on red and black together you are guaranteed to not win. In a networking situation, limit what you talk about. Sure, you are risking leaving out something the prospect would like to hear. However, unless you get lucky and mention it first, the odds are that you will lose their attention by then anyway. Limit the scope of your brand, or say everything and be remembered for nothing.
3) Listen - That's right, you are remembered more when you listen. Most of us go through our day fighting to be heard. It feels really good to be acknowledged and understood. So good that we automatically think highly of the person listening to us. Listening demonstrates that you value the person talking. Sincerely listen to what the other person has to say and they will leave with high regard for you and your business.
There ya have it, networking success as simple as 1, 2, 3! Follow all three strategies and you are sure to notice a sharp improvement in your networking. Before you know it, you will leave your future clients saying "you sold me at hello!" Now, those types of responses build a powerful brand!
Kevin Kearns is a small business branding coach. He holds a Master of Science degree in Organization Development and is a member of the Coachville Graduate School of Coaching. With a mixture of hands-on experience, research, and FUN, Kevin helps small businesses become the only choice. Visit http://www.kevinkearns.com to join The Branding Bunch - a community made up of small business owners that want to grow their business the easy way.