When I first started out as a businesswoman, the thought of networking filled me with dread. It sounded like having lots of interviews and being grilled and don’t get me started on standing up in front of people to talk about yourself!!
But in reality, we network all the time – if something happens in the home like a leak, you contact your family for the details of that plumber who came round last year or if you don’t know anyone you put details on Facebook and ask for a recommendation. Business networking is just the same principle. It took me a while to realise that the contacts you make in networking groups are not always going to become your customers. However, they will then be in touch with their own network and if they hear of your services being required can pass on your details. This is called a referral.
A network is so important when you are the sole person working on your business. You might be a small business at the moment but as you grow you might need that lawyer or accountant and rather than go see a stranger, why not go meet the person you’ve been sitting next to for coffee every week or month!
So you need to bear in mind your audience when you do your 60-second pitch. I’ve put together 5 things that might help you when you’re starting out networking.
- Say your business name clearly – you probably thought of a catchy business name when you set up your business so don’t mumble over this. It might help someone search out your business card if they don’t remember your name.
- Say what it is you do in your business and how you help people. Not many people know what a virtual assistant is so I explain a little how I work for a few hours doing your business admin.
- Say what your ideal client looks like – if you don’t know then have a think about this before the meeting. The more specific you can be, the easier it will be for the others in the room to identify with helping you find your ideal client.
- Give one example of a piece of work you’ve done this week. This helps the other members in the room see how you can help a business.
- Think of a memorable slogan as a sign-off. Summerfield Admin Services – the SAS for your business admin! or Katrina Summerfield Virtual Assistant – Loving the admin you hate! It sticks in their mind, and if it’s funny or whimsical it makes them smile and remember you with fondness
It does get easier each time you do it but don’t forget you can always write it down and read from a script. However, I would recommend practising it and timing it as there is nothing worse when the buzzer goes … it still throws me and I forget what I was saying!
60 Seconds isn’t really a lot of time so you need to be punchy but have the content that will engage the audience. If you’re seeing the same people every month this format will work, but if you’re seeing the same people every week then you might need to mix things up a little. I’m planning to use some of the blog posts I’ve written like Top 10 tips for email management so I can talk about the Virtual Assistant work, but then something practical for business owners to help themselves.
One other tip I recommend is having a leaflet of the services you provide. You will be able to give more details than you could include in your 60 seconds and give it for people to take away with your business card. My leaflet even has some testimonials from my website so all the information they need is right there. If you want help putting together a leaflet do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.