How not to be a networking novice (and nail the answer to ‘Tell me about yourself?’)

2 October 2020

Having a young company most people will freely tell you that what you need to do is grow your network. Success is all about visibility and credibility, having something to say that resonates and helps your audience to achieve more. Reaching the people who will connect with your message/company/product and support your product with sales; even better sharing your message with their network.

This means doing some Social stuff, get a blog, post on Insta, put a video of yourself on LinkedIn etc. As a Gen Xer and a Digital Immigrant, this is all tremendously outside of my Comfort Zone but I have embraced it. The scale and immediacy of the results mean I’m now a convert.

This also means some old-fashioned networking; which is something I’m much more familiar with.

The face to face conversation, talking to strangers, the ‘Tell me about yourself’. Now this is my Super-Comfy Zone! I genuinely love talking to people, there’s so many fascinating people and stories out there that I could entertain myself for a whole day just sitting and chatting to people in a coffee shop.

So imagine my delight at the prospect of a local business networking event, close to home at the local pub on the river. That’s a full-on box-ticker for me!

But no, I started my business in lock-down, so the event had been moved to a video conference using Zoom. Like most people I have spent a large amount of time talking to the green dot on my laptop so despite my pub related disappointment I wasn’t putt off; I dutifully signed up and logged in at the allocated time.

After an introduction from the host and facilitators, the group of around 40 participants, were broken up into smaller groups of 7 or 8. We had 15 minutes to each introduce ourselves and our businesses and to help the conversation flow, there was a question we all debated. There was the usual suspects of personality types and a real mix of businesses. The chat function became a sort of bowl for people to put their business cards into and off we went. We did this twice more with other groups of business owners before we all reconvened to say our farewells.

As everything was done in groups, I found it harder to identify the right connections and building a rapport or a relationship was difficult with no opportunity to get to know anyone with a one to one conversation. However just like with marketing, when networking you’re looking to create a great introduction to your personal or professional brand that makes people want to reach out and learn more.

The reality is that Networking either face to face or in a virtual forum is a lot easier if you have an impactful introduction to yourself ready to go, a way of explaining what you do and why you do it. An ‘Elevator Pitch’ that is compelling and delivered in less than 90 seconds. Some people will dread the invitation to ‘tell me about yourself and your business’ while many more will fumble around with a long answer that is a laundry list of what their business can do.

If you’re struggling, here’s how you write a great elevator pitch (or About statement if you prefer) with a four-point framework that works.

  • What problem do you solve? (This works well when framed as a question)
  • What value do you create? (What do you deliver for your ideal customer?)
  • Why you? (What’s your Unique Selling Point?)
  • Why do you do it? (What drives you?)

This might go something like:

“Do you find that the people you’d love to do business with don’t quite get what you do? Are you struggling to turn your leads into customers?” (The relatable problem for your audience)

“Well I help businesses that are looking to grow to get their message right, stop wasting time and money on marketing that doesn’t work and create better connections and customers.” (The Value you add)

“I’ve done this for small businesses and multinational corporations and can guarantee you will get results” (The reason your customers chose you)

“I can do that because it’s the results I love the most, helping to get your brilliant business idea to the people whose lives you can change.” (Why you care)

I will definitely be doing more virtual networking and I’d encourage anyone who wants to grow their business to do the same. Hopefully I’ll see you there, and if I do, please say Hi and share your fabulously engaging elevator pitch.

If you’d like some help crafting a confident elevator pitch and growing your new business opportunities then get in touch with me at jane.stacey@ideacake.co.uk or fill out a contact request here (link to Contact page)