Networking: From Online to Offline, revenge of the “Shy”

22 09 2009

Image 1So you are the shy type. You have problems in crowded events. Well, social media to the rescue. Have a simple socialmedia strategy and look at people coming towards you. Much easier , don’t you think ? Besides, being active online greatly maximizes the time you spend networking offline anyway.

It’s the time for Tweetups, Podcamps, Yulbiz, Webcom and all kinds of event when you finally get to meet those people you keep chatting with over Facebook, Twitter, your blog and in some cases LinkedIn. Let”s put this to good use shall we ?

Picture: Besides the fact that it adds to your credibility, one good reason to have a real photo as your avatar is that it makes you easily recognizable.  It happens often in these meetings that someone will look at me kind of funny saying; “You’re Startupcoach aren’t you ? It’s much easier to approach someone when you “know” who he or she is. Use the same avatar everywhere, and use a recent one, just to make sure. Make it easy for people to come up to you.

Participating: “Be” in the conversations. A certain amount of “human-ess” is required online if you want to come out as ‘fun o be with”. I’m always amazed at how quick the conversations pick up when people you meet offline are the ones you’ve been “chatting” with online. The topics are right at hand, some blog post can come to mind, or news about common online friends.  Furthermore, usually people will offer to introduce you to other people in your line of thought, your line of work or your expertise. You network will expand accordingly.

Polarize: As in ‘take a stand”!  Even if some lengthy conversations can take place over the net, some topics can only be discussed in real life. If you take a stand on a particular issue, people will seek you at those events. Can be seen as a double edged sword but at the same time you can’t stand out of the pack by being average. If you don’t like the “talking about the weather ” stuff, that the way to go.

Come on get out there, reach out and…shake someone’s hand 🙂

Photo: Eric Baillargeon

You may be at 45 seconds of success

5 09 2007

All entrepreneurs await their great chance, The opportunity that will turn things around. An important customer who will double your bottom line, a supplier that will extend your line of credit, a financial angel interested in your project, or a mentor who can make the difference with his network of contacts.

You heard the expression “Opportunity knocks”; when it knocks don’t waste time opening it. Indeed, bumping into someone; at a conference, on the golf course, riding your bicycle, in a line at the airport, during the “break” at a show, sitting at a table next to you at the restaurant, is a situation that conceal many opportunities. If you ever said to yourself , “Damn, I should have spoken to him”, may I suggest you work on what is now known as the elevator speech

Why this term? Get someone’s interest in your project in a shortest amount of time.
It is about a short and concise presentation, well prepared, repeated over and over. The kind of things you could go thru with enthusiasm, if I got you out of bed at 3 a.m.

You are not trying to get a client, you are not selling a product or a service! You want to thrill someone, turn him (or her) on about your project. You “sell” the company not the product. You sell the interest of being part of such a marvelous adventure. You do not have to say much. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. You just want to raise curiosity.

To way to measure if you won the first round ? Are they asking questions, precise ones. Do not fall into the trap thinking this is easy. It’s akin to writing your company’s mission statement, the choice of the words is very VERY important.

Here is the groundwork. Imagine that you are on a TV quiz show, you have 10 seconds, NO MORE, to explain so that anyone (even someone with no knowledge of your field of expertise, like grumpy Gran’pa!) will understand what you are talking about. I suggest you do that more than once.

Ready ? Get your watch out. Look at the seconds..if you can’t summarize the following topics in10 seconds, you’ve got a weak link, you are eliminated! I already hear the “buzzer” from here ….. are you ready ?

On your product or service: Its difference, its unicity, the manufactoring process, technology behind, its different way to present it. 10 seconds, GO!

Your market: Show how much it is captive and that it develops. 10 seconds, GO!

Your business model: Jerry Maguire said “Show the money”. Be careful. Too many people have seen the Internet bubble burst. Don’t talk about numbers more than the HOW people will have to keep buying. Avoid the IF’s if you don’t want to loose interest and credibility. 10 seconds, GO!

Who is behind you: “Name dropping” is the name of the game here..10 seconds, GO!

Your competition: Don’t hide them. The best way to convince someone that your stuff will work is to show that another one seeks to copy you or benefit from your market. No one else in the market often mean that there is no money to be made. 10 seconds Go!

Your difference: Unique selling proposition 10 seconds, GO!

What’s your weakest link. Work them thoroughly.

When you have all those parts well under control, weave them in a story. How would you piece them together, for a supplier, for a prospective client, an investor, etc.

I can’t insist enough on the importance of being passionate about it. Tell a story, facts will come later. If you think it’s useless, try this…. Put on a piece of paper a list of twenty objects with no specific relations between them. Recite them to someone, out of the blue, one word following the other in a constant flow. Then ask them to repeat the words. Then take the list again, weave the words into a story. Which one do you think will be remembered the most ? Isn’t it what we’re trying to do with those 45 seconds ?

Make it a compelling story.

Be sure to have a “hook” in the first few seconds, in the first paragraph when you write it. Generally, a question starting with “Do you know that…”

In this context you understand that your story might vary from one listener to the next..

Finally make sure to ASK for something in the end. A business card, a permission to call back, or if you feel it went very well, a meeting! If that person says yes, it’s a new door opening. Learn how to gauge your next move.

But most important, if they start looking interested in your project, asking specific questions, you know you’ll have nailed down the famous elevator speech.

Have fun!