Meeting and striking up a conversation with a stranger at a networking event can be a nerve-wrecking experience for even the most experienced business professional.
Sweaty palms; dry throat; raised heart beat are all things, I’m sure, we’re familiar with.
But, what happens if after attending a number events your nerves still get the better of you?
A few years ago, I attended a networking event, and the first person to introduce herself was a Life Coach. I had heard about her services (which had to do with weight loss and exercise) and apparently the results her clients were achieving, were impressive.
I couldn’t wait to hear what she had to say, as I had been planning to speak to her.
However, from what I had been told by other people about her program and how she introduced it that morning, was nothing alike.
She spoke about the new methodologies she used and the people she had studied with to get her qualifications. She referred to some complex medical terminologies and how the mind and body worked – however the way she described it and because she spoke so quickly, it was confusing.
I could tell other people were confused too, due to the glances people were making across the room to one another. And, two people on my table were trying to hold back their laughter.
It was awkward and I felt sorry for this Life Coach.
This Life Coach had obviously been nervous, resulting in her introduction being overwhelming, which is one of the 3 things that can typically occur.
All 3 things can unfortunately leave a negative impression.
1. You Overwhelm
Nerves can make you do and say things you normally wouldn’t do, including:
- Speaking too fast so you can get your introduction over and done with;
- Rambling on using jargon and terminologies no-one but you can understand;
- Mentioning every facet of your business, which to a stranger, seems unrelated and confusing; and the list goes on.
Unfortunately, each of these examples can and will overwhelm people.
2. You Underwhelm
Opposite to the previous situation, this is where you fail to make a positive impact or impression.
Examples where your introduction can underwhelm people, includes:
You only state your job title:
“Hi, I’m [name] – I’m an Accountant.”
While this may seem like the most common sense introduction, the person to whom you are speaking to:
- May have a distaste for accountants due to a previous unfortunate experience with one who was less than professional;
- May already know (or have hired) an accountant, so immediately concludes they have people in their network who they trust and can refer to;
- May prejudge you through their own understanding (or in some cases ‘misunderstanding’) of what they believe an accountant does.
Your tagline is ambiguous and not outcome focused:
“Hi, I’m [name]. I provide financial advice for small businesses.
- What financial advice, specifically?
- What outcomes would someone expect if investing in your services?
These things are unclear, leaving me to come to my own conclusions as to whether or not you can help me or anyone in my network.
And, often the conclusion is – no.
Your introduction is…confusing:
“I’m [name]. I help people butterfly their lives.”
(Yes, this IS something I have heard was used in a person’s introduction.)
While this person meant well and was probably using elements of the Butterfly Effect (which, according to Wise Geek, is a term used in chaos theory to describe how small changes to a seemingly unrelated thing can affect large complex systems), unless anyone knew about this concept – this introduction would definitely have raised eyebrows. For the wrong reasons.
Don’t confuse people.
3. You Give Up
The results of the previous two scenarios can leave people frustrated and convinced that networking is just too hard, and doesn’t work.
Sadly, they fail to realise that:
- It was their introduction that failed to make a positive impression and didn’t compel people to want to learn more about them and their services;
- Networking works because of what goes on AFTER the event.
Are you regularly following up with the people you are meeting?
You should be – it’s key to the success of your networking efforts.
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Question: What makes an introduction stand out for you? What makes a great impression for you? Leave your comment by clicking here.