Introducing yourself at an event… are you seizing the moment?
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Networking
Last week, I was in a meeting full of very impressive businesswomen. At one point during the meeting, every person stood up and took the time to introduce themselves. I don’t know if people realize what an incredible opportunity this is. The chance to own the floor, if only for a minute, during someone else’s meeting is quite powerful. And I would suggest that most people never really look at this silver platter as the gift that it is. I’ve watched one too many people squander their opportunity to make a better impression, attract a new customer, or even find a friend. Not only should you be focused on who else is in the room, you should also be focused on what you should be saying. And name, rank and serial number just won’t cut it.
What do I typically think about when faced with this great opportunity? I’m thinking about the key messages I want to articulate. I’m thinking about where I need help. I’m thinking, if there were a potential customer in the room, what could I say (and how could I say it) in a way that makes them want to do business with me. And most of all, I’m thinking about how I can get as many people in the room as possible to want to meet me – to proactively seek me out.
The feedback (in the form of results) is fairly immediate. By the end of the evening, if no one comes up to me, I must’ve said the wrong thing to the wrong people at the wrong time. Essentially a marketing failure. If at least one or two people come up to me afterward, I know I’m headed in the right direction. If it’s more than that, I’m thrilled. If the people coming up to me are actually people I really want to get to know as well, then my little spiel worked like a charm.
In this case, out of the 50 people in the room, I knew only two – which means basically 48 chances to make a good impression (even better than playing the lottery!). Quickly, I had to figure out what information I wanted to get across. First and foremost, I wanted to let all the executives in the room know that we have a networking forum in which they should participate. But, oh, I’ve written a book on job search and just in case there are some job seekers, I want them to know about that, and they ought to come to our upcoming meeting for execs in the job search. And I do public speaking. And finally, I’m new to Denver, and would really like to make some new friendships here. Sounds like a mouthful. But, I figured out a way to present that information in a clear, concise and entertaining way.
And, at the end of the meeting, I had more than 10 business cards of people who wanted to meet with me. Out of those, four were people I’d written down that I’d like to meet (based on their intros).
Were all of these people potential customers? Maybe not. But do they all have the ability to refer someone to me? Maybe.
So, a lot goes on. And sometimes (most times) you’ll just have a minute or two to prepare, because you don’t always know when you’re going to be in this type of situation. And don’t think a canned intro or memorized elevator speech is going to get you the same results. People can smell that a mile away. It’s stiff, it’s rehearsed, and it will rarely achieve near the results than words which are authentic, targeted and in the moment.