This week we will look into Networking. Here is the action plan template again, for your reference.
- Advertising & Promotion
- PR Campaigns
- Putting it to Work
Networking is a free or low-cost promotion strategy that puts you in front of customers, competitors, other local business owners and employees and individuals who can help promote your business by word of mouth. While there are many organized networking events through business groups or civic clubs, it can also take place in a casual and opportunistic way.
If you are a member of local business groups such as the chamber of commerce or a BNI group, don’t attempt to meet as many people as possible and hand out all your business cards. The idea with networking is to make deep connections with a few selected individuals’ and bring value to the relationship. That is, find out about the other individuals business and find ways to make connections, introductions or referrals for them.
Don’t try to make a sale in the first five minutes of talking. In fact, don’t try to make a sale at all. Successful networking is about giving, not getting. If you give on your side of the relationship, the other side will do the same. You will build a valuable business relationship and over time have a network of people promoting your business for you.
Networking is a long-term process. It will not always generate immediate results. While you may get lucky, plan on developing a network of business partners and friends who support each other, direct leads to each other, and serve as resources to support each other’s business.
The Elevator Pitch
‘So, what do you do?’ How do you answer this question? It’s called the elevator pitch and it may be the most important 10 – 30 seconds of your business life. Whether at a cocktail party, convention, business meeting or chance meeting, you are frequently asked what you do and have only a short window to engage your target with a compelling and interesting response that will make them ask more questions about your business.
An elevator pitch is a brief statement about who you are, what your business does and why anyone should care. The emphasis should be on why anyone should care. Here’s the idea: you’re in an elevator with a potential business investor or customer and they ask what you do. You have about 30 seconds, or the length of the elevator ride to tell them about your business and get them intrigued enough to keep talking to you when you reach the lobby.
Write out your elevator pitch and practice saying it in a relaxed and confident tone. Only you know your business and the different aspects of your work. You will need different elevator pitches for different situations and audiences. The only way to get good at this is to script the pitch and practice delivering it. Often you’ll find that in saying out loud what you have written, it doesn’t really work. Don’t just read your script in your mind, say it out loud and practice in front of people who can give you constructive criticism.
What should you include in your elevator pitch? Here are a few thoughts to help you craft your ideal message:
How are you unique? – Why is your business or service any different than your competitors?
Speak to your customer’s pain – Nobody cares that you have a specialty food shop. But if you have a food store that specializes in fully prepared meals ready to eat for working parents with families, now that might be really helpful and convenient for working parents.
Make it interesting – An excellent elevator pitch should get you pumped up. If you’re flat and lifeless, why would your prospect care what you’re saying? If you have a great story or passion, work that into your pitch.
Keep it simple – You can’t make a single story work for every situation and every prospect. You need to build an arsenal of components that you know backwards and forwards that can be woven together for just the right message for each audience. Write down each message variation and re-write them until they are perfect. Then, practice, practice, practice.
It’s not about you – In case you missed that point already, it’s about your customers and how you can make their life better. Your customers don’t care about you. They only care about themselves. If you can keep that point in mind, you’ll have a better chance of developing an interesting elevator pitch. Remember: them – not you.
Stay connected with us on social media and our blog. Next week we will talk about putting it to work.