We often hear how essential repetition is for building a brand and staking a claim in a crowded marketplace.
It’s very true that in broadcast media… TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, online newsblogs et al… repetition sinks in on an unconscious level. By shear exposure, a jingle becomes a memorable tune, or a tagline becomes part of the daily lexicon.
Yet networking has a very different rhythm, and an entirely different purpose than mass advertising.
You can repeat a core message, and establish a memorable tagline. Yet what matters most in networking conversations is exactly that… it’s the quality of the conversation. People want to engage in dialogue, not fend off a canned mini-speech or sale pitch.
How effective can you be when it’s not immediately obvious what your audience wants, or what their time constraints are at this moment?
Candid Q&A to hold with yourself:
Q1: Do you have too much to say and not enough time?
A: Identity the one message you want people to recall whenever they think about you. If you have more than one core speciality, rotate your key messages. Don’t try to stuff everything into one rambling claim.
Q2: Are you down on yourself because you are not a stand-up comedian at a podium or networking dinner?
A: Being yourself while presenting your authentic strengths will give you real credibility. You’ll give trust a place to grow. If you a great listener rather than conversationalist, your networking partner will love that about you. Just make sure to say back what you heard, so they get you really paid attention. Are you someone who excels in customer service? Tell a (brief!) story on yourself where a client praised you for saving them trouble, and add that getting the job done is what made your day/week/month.
Q3: Are you rushing to put as many words into the time allotted?
A: Slow. down! Use fewer worlds with more focus. Or identify an industry trend/issue and then quickly offer your networking partner a chance to speak by asking if she has encountered this directly or noticed it among their colleagues. After acknowledging their comments, mention how you are working to support (or solve) it for others.
Q4: Does informal networking in an unplanned social situation throw you?
A: Move the focus onto others in a gentle way. Prepare be y being ready with a few business-related topics Stay up-to-date on industry issues or trends that you can ask others to comment on informally. This starts or keeps the conversational ball rolling and avoids the trap of a nervous sales pitch. For example: “Here’s something I am seeing (or reading) a lot about these days. Have you encountered this yourself? Or are you finding your industry has something similar it’s grappling with?”
Q5: When you wish you had 60 seconds, but you’ve only got 15, can you make that work?
A: Create a core message that can be said in 5 to 10 seconds, no kidding. Play with flexible variations so you can be ready, and adapt to varying levels of attention from your netowktinig partners. You’ll gain ease, power and focus in any time frame. Plus, you’ll be ready to listen more attentively knowing you have the skill to deliver your core message simply, quickly, and concisely.
— Diane A. Curran
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