How to Use Presentation Skills in Networking Situations
by Marlene Chism
Because of your anxiety, you've missed everyone else's introduction. You are focused on your own sense of incompetence regarding speaking in front of a crowd. You have three choices when faced with the daunting task of introducing yourself in front of forty people at a business luncheon: · Escape to the restroom · Think of something clever say so you'll be remembered · Make it simple: state your name and your company name
After that you'll network for half an hour and make small talk, however you only get to meet the ones who happen to sit at your table. You've just missed six opportunities to connect with other business people because you don't know how to take advantage of the ten-minute break. Here are some tips in presentation skills that can be applied to networking situations:
Interesting Introductions. If your intro isn't memorable, neither will you be. You need a great introduction for yourself in networking situations, whether it is at a business-to-business event in front of forty people, or meeting someone in the hallway. Your introduction needs to be clear and succinct so that the people listening to you understand what clients you serve and what your business is about. Introductions can be customized depending on your situation. For example, I was working with a beginning realtor and knowing how difficult this business is in the first few years, we came up with something that would make her stand out at networking events: "Hi my name is Jayne Samples and I work with first time home buyers looking for their dream home and I work with home owners who are ready to sell their first home." This quick introduction clarifies what kind of clients she serves best, and the words "dream home" also creates a visual and memorable effect. It's also conversational and warm. Once you've created your interesting introduction you can focus on the introductions of everyone else, jot down key information and double your contacts by having icebreakers to meet those who won't be at your table of six.
Know your audience If you're speaking to artists, better not talk about facts and statistics, they'll only be bored. In other words, know your audience if you want to create rapport. The same is true in networking. Before any networking event do a quick audience analysis. Ask yourself these questions whether meeting one on one or going to a business-to-business mixer. What is the general age of the audience? What kinds of professions are represented? What is the purpose of this event? Is there any significant event that affects this person or this audience? It's important to find something in common that you have with this person or audience. One strategy is to visit websites of those who will be there, but you haven't yet met. Learn a little about their business. When you meet them for the first time, you can comment on their website. You now have an icebreaker to go with your introduction of yourself and it's a technique to gear the conversation toward them. You will be known as an interesting conversationalist.
Don't be a bore/Be entertaining Don't take up too much air. Notice the amount of time you spend talking versus listening. I knew one businessman that had to tell a story to make every point. Every time he opened his mouth, people would let out a big sigh, because they knew they were getting ready for a ten-minute rendition of some parable or story. A boring speaker doesn't know how to engage the audience and a boring net worker makes the same mistakes: They talk too much about themselves and fail to notice the body language of the person in front of them. When you are purposefully focused on the other person's interests, you gain knowledge about their business and engage them at the same time. The best way to stop worrying about impressing others is to become interested rather than trying too hard to be interesting. Do your research, and then ask open-ended questions to draw the other person out.
Have an outline or an agenda A good presentation takes preparation and so does effective networking. If you are networking one-on-one, know why you are meeting, what you want to accomplish and how much time you have allotted. If it's at a business-to-business connection, find out who's going to be there, whom you want to meet, and what you are going to talk about at when you get your five minutes. Keep in mind that you can't cover much in 5-7 minutes, so focus on one or two areas of interest and keep a couple of minutes open to answer questions. Major mistakes include giving too much information in the time allotted which overwhelms your audience, not being organized, thereby being hard to follow, getting off track, and making assumptions that your audience knows the jargon of your business. Have your handouts ready and create a simple outline and stick to it.
Marlene Chism may be contacted at http://www.stopyourdrama.com
Marlene Chism is a professional speaker and author of the e-book Secrets of Strategic Networking: Market Yourself at Chambers, Associations and Clubs. To see more go to http://www.networkingbuilders.com she can be reached at 1.888.434.9085 or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org