At many networking meetings, you are given the opportunity to give a 60-second ‘elevator pitch’ where you imagine you are in a lift with Bill Gates (or your ideal client) and only have one minute to tell them about your business. It’s like a walking, talking advert.
People often ask me to help with their one-minute speeches. There are endless permutations for things to say, but the objective is always to trigger more referrals.
Read this article for 11 ideas to inspire you, or scroll down to the end and discover the sad truth.
Remember you are briefing your ‘sales team’ to go out and find you suitable referrals each week – you are not asking for business from the people in the room (although that may happen as a by-product). That’s why BRX recommend the phrase ‘Who do you know who…’
Top and tail your presentation with the same information each week, and vary the middle bit (the filling in the sandwich). Start with your name and company name and perhaps a ‘tease’ that gets attention. At the end, repeat your name and company name, with your catchprase or slogan as a memory hook.
I’ll always remember one presentation given by the graphic designer in my BRX group. He stood up with his notes in his hand…and said nothing. He looked at his notes. He looked at us. He smiled…and still said nothing. He looked at his watch, looked at us…and still said nothing. After 30 seconds, he started to speak (half-a-minute of silence feels like a very long time!). “See how uncomfortable you feel when you don’t hear from somebody? That’s how your clients feel when you don’t keep in touch with them.” He went on to promote his newsletter design service.
Make sure your product or service is something that you enjoy. If you have a passion for what you do, your enthusiasm will infect the people around you. (But don’t use the word ‘passionate’ because it’s become a cliché.)
Your ideal client
I find that many networkers are very good at describing what they do, but are not so good at asking for what they want. OK, all of us want clients that have big budgets, pay on time and don’t mess us around! But requesting those clients doesn’t make it easy for the people in the room to find you a referral. Instead, why not take one industry in turn from your existing client list, and ask for referrals to more of the same?
You can also ask for referrals to people in the same industry as yourself – for example, as a copywriter it is always useful for me to meet other writers, graphic designers, web designers, printers, photographers, and others in the creative industry. Not because they will become clients of mine, but because we might have potential clients in common; I could add value to their service offering, and they could add value to mine.
Facilities Manager, Steve Turner, was at a training session in Croydon, and he asked “Who do you know that works in the Canon building in Wallington?” He knew they had an ugly old air conditioning system hanging out of their windows, and he knew he could offer them a better one. Someone in the room put up their hand, they had worked in that building for 15 years and still knew people there! The referral was made.
But do you think it would have worked if Steve had said ‘Who do you know that needs new air conditioning?’ or ‘Who do you know that needs a facilities manager?’
I know it’s tempting to cover everything you do at every meeting, but if you ask for something specific, and change it every week, just see how the referrals roll in!
Trust and understanding
Testimonials and case studies sell you more powerfully than anything you can say about yourself. People love stories about people. So use your one-minute to talk about what problem you solved for your client that week, what the solution was and what results you achieved for them. This technique gives the other members the confidence to refer you.
Be seen as an expert
How about sharing a weekly ‘handy hint’? People learn something useful, it demonstrates your expertise and generates enormous amounts of goodwill e.g. the free tips booklets on my website!
Show don’t tell
When you write a novel, you are advised to ‘show not tell’. You don’t write ‘He was angry’. Instead you write a scene when he comes into the room, shouting and throwing things around. The same applies to your networking speeches.
A picture tells a thousand words! So, if you have a product, then bring it along. Use a prop to demonstrate your service. Bring examples of work you have completed. This makes your presentation stand out from the rest, and visually demonstrates what you do.
Make ‘em laugh
People do business with people they like. And people like people who do serious business in a light-hearted way. It’s OK to add appropriate humour to your networking presentations and conversations. People will enjoy your company more, and look forward to dealing with you.
The sad truth about your one-minute ‘pitch’
The truth is, no-one buys from you because of what you say in your one-minute. They buy from you because of what you say and how you behave in between your one-minutes. The chat you have about football. The favour you do them when you introduce them to one of your contacts. Or the worthwhile contribution you make to the committee so the meetings run smoothly.
Edited from The Little Fish Guide to Networking