As the new year commences, many of us will work our way back to in person networking. We will set aside our phones and get back to some good ole’ fashioned grassroot activities, like actually meeting someone face to face with masks on of course! We will have opportunities to meet with fellow entrepreneurs, collaborators, strategic partners, and potential customers.

However, as you prepare to attend various networking events, I would like to remind you that the networking of old is exactly that, old!  We currently only have an attention span of about eight seconds. This no longer allows for three minute introductions where one can list every service and or product that they sell in a room of other attendees. We now have to be strategic, mindful, and very intentional about how we introduce ourselves, or it could very easily fall on deaf ears. We have decided that we now appreciate small businesses and their stories. People want to know who you are and why you do what you do. 

  • They no longer want to hear about why you are better than the next person doing what you do. 
  • They no longer want to hear a scripted sales pitch. 
  • This has never been the case in years past. We always looked at introductions as an opportunity to showcase our businesses. 
  • They want to hear what your passion is and or maybe even your why.
  • We now need to showcase ourselves. Our story. Our why.

Most of us have experienced a time where someone spoke for so long and sometimes in circles, that by the time they were done we had no idea what they spoke about. Oftentimes, this happens when people introduce themselves at networking events. I can tell you about a time where I attended an association meeting and witnessed an industry professional attempt to introduce herself to the room of professionals at the event she was attending for the first time.  She stood up and used the typical real estate language, and spoke about knowing the neighborhoods and comps in the area. However, her introduction did not sound much different than the other agents that have gone before her. I actually assumed she was an agent. Prior to the end of the meeting, we all had a few moments more to mingle. As I went to the other side of the room, I recall someone asking her, “So how long have you been an agent? There are a lot of you here today! I’ll make sure to add you to that list” says the association administrator.  The young lady responds,”No! I’m not an agent! My company works specifically with veterans who are just coming home or looking to buy their first homes and could use some assistance with the process along the way of finding their forever home”. The association administrator stated that she would have loved to introduce her to a few of the members who have businesses that also serve veterans had she known. She even went so far as to say that she missed some great opportunities to collaborate and meet a few potential customers.

The lesson here is easy, had she not attempted to follow suit and mimic the typical introductions, if she led in with authenticity instead of habit, I believe it would have turned out extremely different. 

Here are three tips I would bestow upon you:

  1. There’s no competition 
  2. Show up as your most authentic self
  3. Lead with passion 

Does the thought of introducing yourself give you butterflies?

There is no secret that networking comes easy to some and a bit more difficult to others. Many of us watch people gracefully enter a room, greeting everyone, and boisterously introducing themselves.  “That’s not me you say?!? I am an introvert!” Don’t fret, my fellow business owner! I will share with you a few tricks that I use when preparing to attend an upcoming networking event. 

Magic Prep:

  1. Pick out my outfit 
  2. Choose a statement piece
  3. Create my introduction 
  4. What do I want

You may ask what’s so magical about preparing what you’re going to wear. Let me explain! First, I choose an outfit with a statement piece such as jewelry, purse, or shoes. This way, no matter how nervous I am, knowing that I look magnificent works wonders. Secondly, I consider the audience and I create my 8 to 10 word introduction making sure it fits. This is very important! Now that I know what I’m going to say, I need to know what it is that I hope to gain from attending. It does not behoove us to simply attend for the sake of attending. Understanding what your goal is, for example, finding someone that you can collaborate with is essential. Let’s say you can write and create content on behalf of a business owner,  but you have no understanding of how to update their website. Your goal for this event may be to find a web designer.

Now, you’re probably wondering how I’m going to wrap this up! Simply, I am going to challenge you to be your most authentic self upon your arrival. 

Show up in your business best with your statement piece, your 8 to 10 words or eight second introduction, your goal, and your most authentic self. If you don’t like to speak to the crowd, I would lead with that. You could always say something along the lines of, “Hi! I’m Dawn with Your Story Inc and I’m a bit of an introvert. My passion is to give companies a voice on the web and beyond!” Yes! You can say that in eight seconds! Let them meet you as you are. Your message will resonate with the right person. You may even inspire someone else in the room.

The goal is to be authentic. Not perfect. 

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