Has this ever happened to you? You’re networking at a COSE or other professional association event and you’ve just delivered a concise, engaging and listener-centric Elevator Speech to Maria. Good for you! Now, what do you do?
You have several options to continue the conversation, enhance a potentially beneficial new business relationship and learn more about Maria. Here are a few Best Practices I’ve learned from some colleagues or clients who are on the Varsity Networking Team:
- Respond to Maria’s follow up questions with well-prepared answers. If your Elevator Speech is engaging, it should begin a dialogue with her and generate some questions, such as ‘How do you do it?’, ‘How did you get started?’ or ‘Who is your target market?’. Answer briefly – less is more.
- If she doesn’t ask you a question, it doesn’t mean she’s not interested in you or what you do. It just means she hasn’t asked you a question … yet. So pretend she did and answer it anyway.
- Return the courtesy. Ask Maria what she does. Listen to her Elevator Speech and ask some good follow-up question so you get to know her better.
- Begin even stronger by asking Maria what she does first. If you start the conversation by listening to her instead of talking, you make a better impression. You can also learn a few things to customize your Elevator Speech … if and when she asks you for it.
- Segue into your networking objective. If you went to the event with an information-gathering objective, ask for some input. For instance, ‘I’m looking for information on virtual assistants. Any suggestions?’, ‘Who’s your accountant – I need a new one?’ or ‘Tell me more about Master-mind Groups.’
- Ask for her business card. If you learned enough about Maria to conclude that she might be able to help you – or you might be able to help her, ask for her card so you can stay in touch. This should prompt her to ask for yours. If she doesn’t, ask if you can give her yours. Nice touch.
Your post-elevator speech goals should be to gather information, share information and reinforce the initial positive first impression your Elevator Speech helped you make. If this all sounds like a lot of work to you, that’s probably why they call it net-WORK instead of net-FUN.