Networking Is a Presentation, Too

Lots of topics arise when people learn I have written a book about becoming a better speaker.

Sometimes I Humanity, Silhouettes, Human, Circle, Network, Socialget the reaction, “I don’t deliver speeches and never intend to.” Fine. But serious business people — from Fortune 500 CEOs to start up entrepreneurs — deliver presentations each and every day. Oh, it may not always be a formal presentation. It may be a 30-second self-introduction at a networking function (your elevator speech, to cite that overused phrase).

Both strategy and tactics are important when striving to meet your relationship-building objectives. I’ll deal with strategy down the road. For now, let’s zero in on some techniques that can help raise your networking abilities:

  • Arrive on time and stay until the end.
  • Craft a 15 second “defining statement” (with thanks to Mark LeBlanc for that term) that tells people how you have helped others and, by extension, how you can help them.
  • Don’t hang out with co-workers. Spend time with potential clients and other interesting folks.
  • Use a firm handshake and solid eye contact.
  • Have a meaningful answer at the ready for the inevitable question, “what’s new?”

Yes, networking is a presentation, too. Don’t ignore the need to prepare and strategize in advance.

What advice have you found useful in these situations where you are attempting to build professional relationships?

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2 comments

  1. What an inspiring role model your dad is. I imagine a lot of people have learned from his approach.

  2. Yes, it’s a people business. My father is past president of our L.A. Sales and Marketing Executives. One year, he invited us all to his speech at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Dad made his speech, a talk about the explication of the SME motto, and made his way among everyone after the meeting was done. I saw dad shaking hands and I’ll never forget his style, which I have made my own.

    Dad would look up to people while shaking hands. He’d make good and warm eye contact, add a sincere smile to match it, and you could see a twinkle in his eye, even from our table a few paces away. He put it there somehow. His handshake, eye contact and that twinkle in his eye said that he was very pleased to meet you or to see you again.

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