Matthew Davies is an Author, Speaker and Consultant in Learning and Development. He is a Fellow of the Learning and Performance Institute and works with major corporate clients around the world, including MOO.com. This is the second series of six blog posts in which he teaches teach us how to work the room so effectively, you’ll get holes in your shoes.
When it comes to networking, it’s important that you have your pitch sorted before you attend an event. And when I say pitch I’m talking about a short introduction rather than a sales pitch. This pitch should be no longer than about ten seconds and must include your name, job and the company you work for and why.
Please, please, please make sure that your title is something that most people understand. I once met a lady, who shall remain unnamed, introduced herself as a ‘Group TSR Undertakings UKB Migrations Roadmap Lead.’ You’ve got to smile. I have no idea what she does. She’s probably an absolute delight but the job title does make me consider the possibility she may be hard to deal with.
Remember networking is about building trust. If fellow networkers don’t understand what you do, you’ll have little chance building any sort of relationship. If you suffer from ‘silly job title syndrome’ then go and talk to your boss and decide on a title that people can understand, because first impressions do count. Entrepreneurs in one person businesses, don’t call yourself the CEO, it’s embarrassing. Say what you do and not just what you are. And remember to keep it simple.
Next step is to practice your pitch. Can you say it in 10 seconds? If not, why not? Keep it short and simple and once you’ve got the content right I want you to stand in front of the mirror, trying it out. I know your eyes have just hit heaven and you’ve sighed like a lion that’s just been outrun by another gazelle but you’re going to have to see what the other networkers see. Please, just do it. This is literally ‘show business’ so smile (unless you’re a mortician), speak slowly, clearly and look yourself in the eyes.
This exercise will show you how you come across and is absolutely invaluable. Promise me you’ll give it a go and I promise you, you’ll be a better networker. This may well highlight how dull you come across. Imagine you’re meeting you, what would your first impression be? My background is in broadcasting and I know it’s vital to be genuine but it’s also important to raise my game when I’m presenting a show. No-one wants to hear me drone on in some apathetic monotone, they will turn off. Why would you think it’s different when you meet folks at a networking event? I’ve seen it at every one I’ve been to. Miserable suits with a face that could make an onion cry! Sort it out. Smile, be warm, welcoming and open.
Written by Matthew Davies