These days, you’re just as likely to meet your next big client while waiting in line at Starbucks as you are while attending an official networking event, which means that every first impression matters. Even someone who knows nothing about your industry could be related to or working with someone who needs exactly your expertise, and if you make an impression on them, that contact could change your business.
This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours in front of a mirror scrutinizing and nitpicking yourself or your business. If you keep these five tips from Biron Clark of Career Sidekick
in mind, you’ll leave everyone from your fellow Starbucks patrons to the speaker at your next networking event with a smile on their face when they think of you.
1. Clearly define what it is you do.
The first step to being able to articulate something to others is to fully understand it yourself. Focus on the one thing you do best and make it the center of your elevator pitch. Make sure it’s clear and easily understood, even by those who aren’t familiar with your industry. If you tell someone you’re great at six different things, none of them will stick. But if you focus on your strongest skill and are able to articulate why you’re the best at that one thing, they’ll remember you for that and are much more likely to be impressed.
2. Listen twice as much as you talk.
In a world full of distractions, it’s unusual to get someone’s undivided attention while you’re talking. By focusing one hundred percent on the person you’re speaking to and actually listening to what they’re saying, you’ll make them feel important. It’s a rare and special enough feeling that they’ll remember you for it. If you feel you’re talking too much, use a question to bring the focus of the conversation back to them. Something like “You mentioned earlier that you’re focused on lead generation and business development for your startup right now. Do you have a background in this? Or what made you decide to step into that role as a founder?”
3. Be a super-connector.
Even if you aren’t a connector by nature, this is worth the extra effort. Find out what they do and how they could be helped and then figure out one person you know who they might benefit from knowing (and who would also benefit from knowing them.) Make the introduction that same week. This ensures you’re adding value to every person you meet right away. Another upside to making the connection is that you’ll have to listen very closely to what your new acquaintance does and what they need in order to introduce them to the right person in your network.