We are constantly told to network, network, network. Networking helps to build business,foster contacts and leads, create opportunity for career change or promotion, increase learning opportunities etc,etc,etc.
Recently I was at a conference where it certainly was networking heaven. Attending were key industry figures, peers, suppliers and industry leaders. I had my 'elevator pitch' down pat. I had spent time working through my pitch to inform and not bore my audience. I was prepared, confident and ready to build my networks. I only wish that some of the people I encounted had also pre-prepared their 'elevator pitch' before embarking on their networking experience.
Speaking with several people over the course of the four day conference, I came to the big question. 'When does self promotion become too much self and you lose the art of promotion?'
After 15 minutes of listening to one attendees self promotion I felt my mind wander and I started to glaze over as I looked around for a good exit strategy.
There is a fine line on the self-promotion platform. Where is that line? Does the line change with the audience? These questions I posed to myself in my glacial state. The line is thin and can become blurred. A 60 - 90 second elevator pitch should give your audience a brief introduction with them wanting more, opening up the opportunity to ask further questions. This should also allow you the opportunity to ask your listener further questions. The wonderful art of conversation is now at work.
From this 10 - 15 minute converstion business cards can be swapped, opportunities for future mutal business enhancement can be considered, even so far as possible future strategic alliances contemplated. However, if the conversation becomes so self focused these opportunities can be lost.
It is a part of human nature to want to talk about ones self. Who best knows you? You! You are the expert on you and your business. Given it is human nature to want to disclose information on oneself then the art of networking is finely balanced on engaging your audience to also impart information of themselves back to you. Why do they want to listen to you? WIFIM - What's In It For Me? What is in it for your audience?
If you find yourself getting lost in 'self' take a breath and consider this question...What would be the ultimate question I would want to be asked at this networking event? Now you have it, ask your listener that exact question. See their reaction to your interest in them. It now can move the focus to the listener and demonstrate your desire to find out more about them. All of a sudden you can elevate their perception of you with a short well constructed question.
Personally, I go as far as having 6 - 8 pertinent questions prepared along with my elevator pitch. My questons I change and adjust slightly to suit the situation at the time.
Next time you are thrust into a networking situation consider this 'when does self promotion become too much self and I lose the art of promotion?
I would like to hear from you on your networking experiences