Networking and developing good social contacts is an important part of building your business. However, if you go to events and no one remembers you afterward, what was the point in attending? Networking events only work if you make yourself memorable. Happily, this doesn’t mean you have to be bizarrely dressed or loud and boisterous. It just means you have to provide something worthy of people’s remembering.
It never ceases to amaze me how many talented and well-educated people attend networking events, yet overlook their big chance to be memorable. All it takes, really, is a little preparation: developing a mini-presentation for intimate audiences of one to five people. All speaking is public speaking. Outside the privacy of your own home, you are speaking in public no matter the size of your audience.
Here are some strategies that will let you walk into a room with quiet self-assurance, confident that people will enjoy meeting you and will recall you afterwards:
1. Arrive looking your best. If you have a hectic day before going to a business meeting, keep a change of clothes in your office or car so you can arrive unwrinkled.
2. Wear your name tag. We’re all more likely to retain information we see and hear at the same time, so wear your name tag up on your right shoulder. That way, people can read it as they hear you say your name. Some women put their name tags down on their handbags or in awkward places. Put it where people are not afraid to look!
3. Develop a memorable signature. Men can wear ties that people will comment on. An investment banker I know wears a money tie. At certain meetings or National Speakers Association events, I stand out because I wear distinctive hats. When people are asked, “Do you know Patricia Fripp?” the usual reply is, “Sure, she’s the one who always wears the amazing hats!”
4. Develop an unforgettable greeting. When you introduce yourself, don’t just say your name and job title. Instead, start by describing the benefits of what you do for clients. A financial planner I know says, “I help rich people sleep at night.”
One of my responses is, “I make conventions and sales meetings more exciting.” Almost invariably, my new friend has to ask, “How do you do that?” Immediately, I get to market myself: “You know how companies have meetings that are supposed to be stimulating, but they’re often dull and boring? Well, I present practical ideas in an entertaining way so people stay awake, have a good time, and get the company’s message. My name is Patricia Fripp, and I’m a professional speaker.” People remember the vivid pictures you create in their minds more than the words you say.
5. Greet everyone. Don’t ignore people you recognize just because you’ve forgotten their name. Smile and ask a provocative question like, “What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you since we last met?” or “What is your greatest recent success?” or “What are you most looking forward to?” And never be afraid to say, “The last time we met, we had such a great conversation. Will you remind me what your name is?” Bestselling author Susan RoAne tells people, “Forgive me for forgetting your name. Since I passed forty, it’s hard to remember my own.”
6. Overcome any shyness. For many people, mingling with a room full of strangers can be an unpleasant or even scary experience. Take your focus off the butterflies in your stomach by thinking about the benefits of meeting exciting new contacts and learning new information.
Until you’ve gained confidence, a good way to do this is to offer to volunteer for a job that requires interacting with other attendees, such as volunteering to be a greeter. Greeters stand at the entrance, possibly with a label on their name tag denoting them as “Greeter,” and have a specific job: “How do you do? I’m Chris Carter. Welcome to the Chamber mixer. Is this your first event? Please find your name tag; the food is in the next room, and our program will start in thirty minutes.”
Soon you will start feeling like the host of the party. You’ve met many new people and will get cheery nods of recognition throughout the event, making it easy to stop and talk later. When you focus on helping others feel comfortable, you are not thinking about you being shy!
7. Travel with your own PR agent. This is a powerful technique that maximizes your networking. Form a duo with a professional friend. When you arrive, alternately separate and come together, talking up each other’s strengths and expertise.
Suppose you and Fred are business partners. As Fred walks up, you say to the person you’ve been talking to, “Susan, I’d like you to meet my colleague Fred. Fred has taught me nearly everything I know about our business and he has won every contest and incentive trip since I’ve been with our company.”
Then Fred can say, “Well, Jane is being very generous. It’s true; I’ve been with our company for five years—and Jane has been here for just six months, and has brought in more new customers in that half-year than most people do in five years.”
When you do this, you’re saying about each other exactly what you would love your prospects to know but modesty prevents you from saying. And by telling them something interesting about others, your listeners will remember you.
8. Always send a note or brochure the next day to the people you have met. Keep business cards, and make notes of what you said for when you meet them at another event.
These are all positive, pleasant, easy ways to be memorable. There is no point going anywhere if people can’t remember you were there!
PATRICIA FRIPP is a speech coach,
sales trainer, and keynote speaker. She is
the author of many programs and
books on public speaking, including
Speaker’s EDGE: Secrets and Strategies
for Connecting with Any Audience.