Whether you are prospecting for new business or looking for work, a networking event is a great way to establish new contacts. As you recall in our last exciting episode, I had waded into a networking function, sponsored by the Nashville Chamber. As a representative of The Southwestern Company, I was ready: I had business cards, dry palms, a nice suit on, and fresh breath, compliments of Orbit gum.
When you meet and greet, the question is inevitable. ”And what do you do?” Here are some possible answers:
“Uh, I’m in sales.” (A fascinating opener–they yawn.)
“I’m a recruiter with ______ company….” (Wait for them to shout–”Oh my gosh! Let’s do business!”)
“I’m glad you asked!” (Then ramble for 10 minutes.)
Not exactly descriptive or gripping.
So, after having attended a great workshop with Cindy Hazen, of Sales-Executives, I discovered a better way. Here is her formula. First, create your defining statement. Position yourself by concept, not titles/services/products. Think about the following questions:
- What is unique about my services or product?
- Why should anyone do business with me?
- 3-5 words long with not more than one “and”
- Try words like “work with” and “want”
So take this, and build a short “elevator speech” introduction, emphasizing your benefit–not what you do, but what they get…
- What you do: “I am a real estate agent.” Try: “I help my clients find & live in their dream home.”
- What you do: “I am an executive recruiter.” Try: “I work with companies who struggle with hiring the right performance-oriented employees.”
- What you do: “I work at Southwestern.” Try: “I help college students develop the skills and character they need to achieve their goals in life.”
These new, improved responses really juice your first impressions. Make it interesting and establish the benefit of what you do in the first sentence. Then you can further describe exactly what you do and how you do it as you talk.
So, next time you’re at a job fair, a networking event, or just a large party, give this a try. You may even have people interested in what you have to say! I welcome your comments/stories/questions.