If you’re like the majority of sales reps, you know that sometimes you have to take that extra step to reach your sales goals. This means that on many occasions you’ll do more than what is expected of you to close out a deal
Every sale counts and so you must face your next challenge in good spirit to make sure you hit your annual quota to secure that bonus.
Networking events aren’t just an opportunity for some free beers
When each sale counts, so does every opportunity, especially those disguised behind social events.
Cocktails, receptions, breaks in professional conferences, whatever it may be, each one is a perfect opportunity to expand your circle of contacts.
In these sorts of events, people tend to be more open than they are in formal situations. A few canapés, wine and music can help make any situation seem more like a party. But watch out, because the key word here is “seem.” A networking event is not just an excuse for a couple of free drinks.
It’s still work at the end of the day just in a more “relaxed” atmosphere. It could also open a lot of doors to new opportunities if you know how to play your cards right.
So just how effective are your skills at securing some business? Here’s a clue: it all depends on your ability to capture people’s attention.
When no one hears what you have to say
Imagine you’re at a professional get together. You’ve been invited by a friend who told you some interesting business contacts will also be there, but you don’t know any of them personally.
You arrive and introduce yourself to two people whose profiles match your ideal client. You say hello, tell them your name and they ask the age-old question:
“So what do you do?”
What do you usually respond?
Something like, “I manage large accounts for the hotel chain X.”?
In just those few seconds, you’ve lost their attention and your moment of glory.
Microsoft carried out a study in 2012, which proved that our average attention span is about 8 seconds. This means that if you can’t capture someone’s attention in those 8 seconds, it’s unlikely you’ll get it back.
In other words, you have very little time to make an impression before the person you’re talking to shifts their attention to somebody else. So make it clear from the beginning that it’ll be worth their time listening to you.
However, what often happens is that we end up repeating what our business card already says about us. This is where we first go wrong because:
- It’s likely no one really understands what you mean by this.
- It’s not of any value to the person you’re talking to.
What’s more, almost everyone else in the world introduces themselves the same way, making you another dime a dozen. It’s a sure way to make others forget about you and your business card probably ends up in a draw somewhere collecting dust.
It’s a question of survival and we as humans always put ourselves first.
This means that we only really react favorably to someone if they’ve got something to offer us.
When you introduce yourself and reel off the same spiel from your business card, you offer nothing new to the person you’re talking to since it’s entirely self-focused.
However, by shifting the focus to the person you’re taking to, they’ll be able to decide if they care about what you have to say or not.
Introducing yourself a networking event
To really succeed and make a good impression, you have to approach the situation differently. In those initial 8 seconds, you want to present yourself in a way that’s going to grab their attention so they know exactly the service you provide.
How can you do this? Once they’ve asked, “What do you do?” construct a reply that follows the format below:
- Identify the problem that your ideal client has, to which you offer your solution.
Example: “There are many entrepreneurs and business owners who have big ideas, some of which they can execute very well. But they’re not always so good at explaining these ideas making it difficult for them to find funding, new clients and support to present these ideas.”
- Mention the solution to their problem, i.e. what you do to help resolve the pain points of your potential client.
Example: “In just a few hours I can help them perfect the way they present their sales so they can carry them out with conviction, no matter the circumstance.”
- Be clear about the reward behind your solution. How does your solution facilitate their work?
Example: “This allows them to present their business ideas with certainty any time and in front of any audience. In doing so, they can dedicate more time to what they do best: managing their business.”
Instead of simply saying “I’m Sebastian, I provide communication skills training…” You must be clear about the pain point, how it’s resolved as well as the final results for the people who work with you.
That way, whoever is listening, knows straight away if you can provide them with a service. If not, at least they can always refer you to someone else.
Remember to use this method the next time you introduce yourself at a networking event and you’ll see immediate results.