Come well prepared
During a speed networking session it is extremely important to be well prepared, efficent and goal oriented. There is very little time for small talk in contrast to other networking sessions. Prepare yourself by setting goal and outcomes that make sure that the time frame allows you to deliver the message that you want to communicate. Don’t forget to bring a stack of business cards and preferably aa folder or one-pager that clearly deescribes your company and what you offerings are.
Always have the end in mind
Before the event begins, set clear and concise goals and objectives to use as a guidance during the different meetings. To create new contact on the local market could be an objective, but the overall goal should be more specific than that.
Be honest and show respect
Introduce yourself and exchange business cards before starting and offer the other person to start unless he/she resents that. Being first has its advantages, but the one speaking last can adjust the presentation to what he just heard and in that way show on common denominators and hence create more interest.
You will gain from giving
By helping the person you are meeting to achieve his goal in an open minded and honest way, you will gain more from the meeting. It creates confidence and the will of the other party to help you out. It also creates an more dynamic and open minded way of looking for win-win situations for both of you, as the person can find synergies in your offer to help him out.
Be aware of your personal brand
In good time before the meeting, as well as during the meeting, reflect over how you can work with your personal brand. Are you dressed according to the venue, are you communicating your core values and your basic principles? Be aware of your posture, your body language and note the way your counterpart are responding to the way you are delivering your message.
Prepare your elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is a 30 seconds description of your self, what you do and what you want to communicate. Prepare a pitch before the meeting and think through what is the most important things you like to communicate. Refine the pitch so that it sounds natural. If you execute well, you will have an audience that are alert and that will listen to whatever you have to say afterwards regarding how you can help the other person reaching his goals and how he can help you reaching yours.
A good pitch can be constructed by the following parts:
- Your name.
- Your title and company.
- The values you create for your clients, by describing a typical problem, what activities you used to solve it and the actual result.
- You can round up by including something about your goals and the results you wish to achieve from the meeting.
I recommend you to take notes in every meeting with another human being. Scribble down who it is you are talking with, the date, the context as well as a summary of what is being said. Try to find common denominators and in which ways you can help the person in front of you, who amongst your contacts can be a good connection, which of your own goals can benefit from the other persons experience, contacts, etc. Always bring a writing pad and a pen to meetings. Remember that successful people think on paper.
One of the most important aspects of networking is to follow up the contacts you have received during the meeting. If you do not follow up, you might as well have stayed in the office and done something more useful. Place a phone call, book a lunch or send an e-mail so that the person get a more lasting impression of you and what you do. This shows on professionalism as well as respect for the time the other person took to meet you. By revising your notes, it will be easier to recall the names and the thought about activities and connections related to the goals of the other party.
Work with continuous improvements
To sharpen the saw is always important when trying to develop yourself and your skills. What did go right? What could you have done better? Do not wait to figure out how you can improve until next time. Prepare yourself already today by improving the elevator pitch, prepare a kit for next time with tools and a checklist and think of how your personal brand can be even more relevant for the next meeting.