Crafting Networking-Meeting Introductions
Keep it short. Tell the truth. Mix it up. Use the microphone.
Networking meetings are the rage right now. When you go to these meetings, you’ll probably have 30 seconds to stand up and introduce yourself to the whole group. This will undoubtedly happen every week. What are you supposed to say in that time? Here are my five networking tips for your introduction:
1. Use the microphone.
Every smart networking group knows that passing a microphone is essential. Rooms tend to be set inside loud locations such as restaurants and recreation centers. Some participants may have hearing difficulties. Take the hint: If your group has more than 12 people and there is a microphone being passed around from person to person, then you should use it. I’ve been writing about training public speaking for decades and this so essential thing is missed by so many marketing groups. Use a microphone for your meetings. No, you aren’t loud enough. No, I don’t care how many theater classes you had in high school or if you are in one of those public-speaking contest clubs. Use the microphone.
“My group doesn’t have a microphone!” Well, after you have attended the networking meetings for a few weeks and people start to recognize you, start asking gently about where the microphone might be found and why it’s not used. If there isn’t one to be found, you can provide a sound system for under $100.
2. Don’t start your time by apologizing.
You have 30 or 60 seconds to introduce yourself. Use every portion of that time to focus on sharing with your group how you might help them. Spending 12 seconds of your thirty seconds apologizing for your rough voice worn out from refereeing pee-wee soccer over the weekend or what have you is a wasted use of your time. Of course, if your networking involves pee-wee soccer, then use that as your presentation. However, apologizing for your low voice or energy or making amends for being late to the meeting does not help. Don’t apologize. Speak to us as clear as you can with whatever voice or energy you have. We will get you.
3. To begin, solidly deliver your name, your company name and the smallest summary as to what you do.
What do you say at a networking meeting? To begin, mentioning your name and company is important. This is the trinity of Name+Company+Purpose (NCP). “My name is Sean Buvala and I am the publisher at The Small-Tooth-Dog Publishing Group LLC. We publish books.”
4. Then, use an anecdote (especially chosen for this audience!) to illustrate who you have served.
Nearly everyone in the room is thinking one of two things when you stand up, “How Can I Sell Something to Them?” or “What’s In It For Me?” While it is a bit blunt, so many of our networking meetings tend towards hunting for leads. I’ll talk more about relationships in another post but for now, let’s make your 30 second presentation about how you help people.
“NCP + In this last week I met with an author who already has a series of novels out in the world, but now she wants to explore how she might make her messages available via children’s books.”
Make the anecdotes you use at events match the needs of the people you are speaking with at the meeting. The one-topic-for-all elevator speech is dead. Each networking group I have ever belonged to has its own unique charism or purpose. It will take you a few times of attendance to learn the feel of the group, but as you do, adapt your anecdotes to match the group.
Be sure your anecdotes are true. Don’t make up conversations you didn’t have. If you have something you want to say, your 30 seconds might include.
“NCP + and the perfect connection for me is anyone who wants to begin the long journey to having a nonfiction or kid’s book published.”
Remember we’re not using the same standardized anecdotes all the time. For some meetings I might say,
“NCP + and the perfect connection for me today is any business which wants to educate clients by giving them a copy of their company’s free book. My publishing company will do all the writing for you.”
5. Conclude with your name and contact information.
“I’m Sean Buvala and our website is at <pause> small tooth dog dot com.”
Be as precise, fun, and as gently self-assured as you can with your brief introduction. Make it your intention to share information, not just fish for leads. Change your anecdotes frequently to avoid people shutting out your overly-familiar message. Bring something new to the ears of those gathered at the networking meeting.