Last week I gave you some things to do at face-to-face networking events. This week five don’ts, compiled from my own experience plus advice from my personal learning network.
1. Don’t use a pre-rehearsed pitch to start the conversation at gatherings. Most likely it will hit the wrong nerve and be unsuited to what the other person wants to know. I learnt this from Matt Church, who has developed a brilliant nine-step matrix for this, and I recommend it. His positioning statement has worked wonders for my confidence in being authentic and getting my message across simply and without being pushy. In essence it focuses more on story, metaphor and your listener's needs than the traditional 'I did this!' elevator pitch. Go to mattchurch.com to find out more about it.
2. Don’t be all business, but similarly don’t get too personal. Talking about your personal problems or what you hated about the job you left to go solo will make an impression, but not the right one. Another way to turn your hearer’s listening off quick smart is spruiking your business in the first line of conversation, so much better to start with something gentle about the room, the food or the speaker.
3. Don’t run out of business cards.
Have them handy, but not in your hand, and ready to give out when invited, and not before. Nothing looks worse than scrabbling around in the bottom of your handbag or jacket pocket to dredge up a creased or smeared card – not that this would ever happen to me (hem hem). Don’t give them out willy-nilly either - it’s just not done. If your conversation has been fruitful, people will ask for your details.
4. Don’t use other people’s business details collected at these events to build your newsletter database. If you think during the conversation that the other person might be interested in the content of your newsletter or blog, ask them if they would like to subscribe or if they would prefer you to add them, noting that they can unsubscribe at any time. Place a tick on their business card to remind yourself if they say yes, and otherwise accept their no with a thank you.
5. Don’t be shy.
Easier said than done, but if you only talk to people you already know you are wasting a great opportunity. Putting yourself out there requires a certain kind of bravado. One tip is to look at the way you are talking about the experience to yourself. Do you see it as a lion pit? A trial? A job interview or a battle of wits? If so, you may want to reframe the experience by reframing the language. If you think of it as a sharing of experience, a conversation for possibility, a chance to share your offer or an interlude away from solo solitude, it may just feel that bit easier to do.
Get out there and go for it- I know you can do it!