By Phil Stella
As wannabe power networkers, many of you polish your finely crafted elevator speeches or 30-second commercials and deliver them with passion and purpose every chance you get. Great. So let’s assume you’ve just done that at an Amplify panel discussion, professional group meeting or other networking event. Now what do you do?
Here are several options for continuing the conversation, enhancing a potentially new business relationship, learning more about the other person, and earning a spot on the varsity networking team.
- Respond to any follow-up questions other people ask with well-prepared answers. If your elevator speech is engaging, it should begin a dialogue and generate questions such as, “How do you do that?” “How long have you been doing that?” or “Who is your target market?” Answer briefly — less is more.
- Pretend your new colleague just asked one of those questions anyway. If they don’t ask one, it doesn’t mean lack of interest in you or what you do. It just means they haven’t asked you a question … yet. So pretend it happened and answer it anyway.
- Return the courtesy. Ask them what they do – invite them to share their elevator speech and ask some good follow-up questions so you get to know them better.
- Begin stronger by asking them what they do first. If you start the conversation by listening to them instead of talking, you make a better impression. You can also learn a few things to customize your elevator speech when it’s your turn to deliver it.
- Transition into your networking objective when it makes sense. If you went there with an information-gathering objective, ask for some input, such as, “I’m looking for information on virtual assistants. Any suggestions?” “Who’s your accountant – I need a new one?” or “Tell me more about how you use Twitter.”
- If you learned enough from them to conclude that they might be able to help you – OR – you might be able to help them, then ask for their card so you can stay in touch. This should prompt them to ask for yours. If they don’t, ask if you can give them yours. Nice touch.
So, the purpose for the dialogue that your initial elevator speech generated is to gather or share information and reinforce the initial positive first impression that your listener-centered, focused, and interesting elevator speech helped you make. Sound like a lot of work to you? Right you are! That’s probably why the call it net-WORK instead of net-FUN.
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication and empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty at the University of Phoenix and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative. He can be reached at (440) 449-0356 and firstname.lastname@example.org.