You May Be Outstanding But Are You Standing Out?

You May Be Outstanding But Are You Standing Out?

Everyone has competition within their chosen field, including you. And you may be outstanding at what you do but are you standing out? What is it that makes you unique amongst your competition?

When it comes to getting referrals, your network needs to know WHY you and not someone else in your field? So, your 30-second commercial needs to convey credibility and confidence that serves to answer that question before it is asked. Consider these examples for a Franchise Broker. Which one answers the question, “Why should I refer you and not another franchise broker?”

A) I really like selling franchises and my customers tell me that I’m really good at it.

Or…

B) Not only have I helped more than 100 people get into the right franchise, I also spent 10 years as a CPA … so I can help my clients really understand what they’re getting.

Who would a prospective franchisee prefer to work with – A or B? The answer should be obvious (at least the question was intended to be rhetorical). The point is that inspiring confidence (answering the “WHY you” question) is vital. So, as you think about your 30-second commercial, remember that you may be outstanding but are you standing out?

How You Share Your Message with Others

How You Share Your Message with Others

In your 30-second commercial, the Basic Introduction (name, business, what you do) is an essential element. However, there are relatively few options for you to present this information. It is largely void of creativity, right? That’s okay because the time for creativity is in how you share your message with others.

You see, your message is essentially the heart and soul of your 30-second commercial, and you can approach it from many different angles. To get your point across, you can INFORM, EDUCATE, AMUSE, or STARTLE the listener.

You might be thinking, “But there’s nothing remarkable about what I do.” Certainly, what you do may seem like basic vanilla…to you. But it might not be to others who aren’t in your field. So, try to convey in your message all the different WHERE’S and HOW’s you do what you do. With that, you can add some creativity to your message body.

Consider a real estate agent. “My name is Bob. I’m a real estate agent with ABC Realty. I help people buy and sell houses.” Sounds rather “vanilla”, right? But there are lots of reasons, situations, and stories around when and why people buy or sell a house. What if instead, Bob said:

  • “My name is Bob. I’m an expert at helping growing families get out of an apartment and into their first home.”
  • “My name is Bob with ABC Realty. Yesterday I helped a family find the perfect second home outside the city for quick getaway weekends.”
  • “I’m Bob with ABC Realty. Quick question. How do you fit a family of six with two dogs in a 1200 square foot home? Answer. You don’t! You call me to help find a larger home within your budget.”
  • “Have you ever thought about flipping houses for profit? Did you know [insert an obscure or fun fact about flipping houses]? My name is Bob with ABC Realty and I specialize in helping people find their first flip.”
  • “Last week I closed on a condo for a couple whose youngest child just got married and moved out. Their dream had always been to downsize to a condo once the kids were gone. Last week that dream became a reality. I’m Bob with ABC Realty.”
  • “My name is Bob. I’m a realtor with ABC Realty. I had coffee the other day with a guy who just inherited some money and is looking at investment possibilities. Being a realtor, I suggested investing in a rental property. He seemed intrigued and we have an appointment next week to explore some possibilities.”

A Basic Introduction

A Basic Introduction

Your 30-second commercial is your first connection with a potential new client or member of your network. As such, it is an essential part of your networking efforts. At just 30 short seconds, it’s an efficient way to convey important information. In order to also be effective, your message must be concise and include only your basic information. One of the most basic elements of your 30-second commercial is who you are. This is your Basic Introduction.

There is no magic to stating who you are in your Basic Introduction. After all, it is, well, basic. Nevertheless, this part of the 30-second commercial is important.

In your Basic Introduction you need to clearly articulate your name (is it Mike or Michael? … Kim or Kimberly?). Then state your title and the work you are associated with. Each of these is important.

Now, nothing says it has to be in this precise order. You could achieve the same objective by phrasing your Basic Introduction as:

  • “I am a franchise broker with National Franchising Group. My name is John Doe.” Or…
  • “I am with National Franchising Group. My name is John Doe, and I am a franchise broker.” Or…
  • “I’m John Doe, a franchise broker with National Franchising Group.”

Whatever the case, your 30-second commercial must address who you are.

Framework for an Effective 30-Second Commercial

Framework for an Effective 30-Second Commercial

Regardless of your objective (to inform or to grow your network), it’s helpful to have a framework for an effective 30-second commercial. First, let’s look at two types of 30-second commercials:

  • The kind you use to inform, like when someone you meet at a social event or other gathering asks, “What do you do?”
  • The kind you use to help grow your professional network, like when you’re at a networking event.

To build a strong network that gives you referrals, contacts, and information, you need to have a concise, yet very compelling, 30-second commercial. The 30-second commercial framework below is helpful when meeting other professionals that you might want to include in your network. The problem is that you have SO MUCH to say, and 30 seconds is not a lot of time. To conquer the challenge of conveying lots of information in a short period of time, give this framework a try.

  • Start with a basic Introduction for yourself (this addresses WHO you are)
  • Add to that a Message (which addresses WHAT you do)
  • From there, you need to Inspire Confidence or create credibility (which establishes WHY you over all the other choices)
  • Then wrap this up with a Strong Definite Request of what you need (this is the HOW they can help you).

Now, if you carefully draft each of these sub-parts and then piece them together with your own personal flair, you end up with a very effective 30-second commercial. Give it a try and see if this framework for an effective 30-second commercial works for you.

The Communication Challenge

The Communication Challenge

To build a network that will help you reach your goals, your network needs to KNOW you, LIKE you, and TRUST you. If you’ve known a person for many years, they probably already tick the boxes for all three areas. But what about when you’re meeting someone for the first time? How much information about yourself and your business should you share? And how can you do so in a relatively short amount of time? This is the communication challenge in networking.

As you begin to establish KNOW, LIKE & TRUST, those you hope to add to your network NEED (not just WANT, but NEED) to have a firm sense as to…

  • WHO you are – What’s your name? What’s your business name?
  • WHAT you do – Not a laundry list; just a general sense of the work you do.
  • WHY they should do business with you or WHY they should refer you to others as opposed to referring someone else.
  • And HOW they can help you – Who are people you want to be referred to? Who do you want to meet? What information do you need? 

In a networking environment, the primary limitation to communicating all this is simply ATTENTION SPAN. You only have somewhere around 30 seconds to effectively communicate all these things or risk losing their attention to something or someone else.

So, to tackle the communication challenge, plan out what you’re going to say, then practice saying it in 30 seconds or less.

Tips For Improving Small Talk

Tips for Improving Small Talk

Small Talk is an art. Like any art, you can improve how you do it through practice. But it can be helpful to have some ideas for how to make small talk feel more comfortable and be more effective. Here are some tips for improving small talk.

  • THINK … On the way to an event (a party, meeting, or another social gathering) or when you have some idle time, work through in your mind how you envision your small talk going. Review in your mind the questions you will ask. Visualize yourself listening to the speaker, summarizing what they say, and sharing your own wisdom or experience.
  • LISTEN … Small talk is all around you, every day. Listen to it, especially when you notice someone who’s good at it. See how they flow from one question to the next and how they transition from small talk to business then back to small talk again before exiting the conversation.
  • ENGAGE … Take every opportunity to engage in small talk. When you are in line at the store check out. With a server in a restaurant. With the receptionist at your next appointment. You will find the more you engage in small talk, the more comfortable you get at it.

The most important thing you need to do to be good at small talk is developing an attitude of belief. Periodically, you need to tell yourself, “I can carry a conversation and I’m good at it. I enjoy how it lifts the spirits of others. And I love what it is doing for my networking. I can carry a conversation.” So at your next event try to use one or more of these tips for improving small talk.

Exit Gracefully From Networking Conversations

Exit gracefully from networking conversations

Business connections at networking events are great. But you don’t want to churn away the entire event on a single conversation. And if you’re going to engage in multiple conversations, it’s important to know how to exit gracefully from networking conversations.

Keep in mind, however, that this is not speed dating. Nothing says you need to engage in a dozen or more different conversations over the course of an hour. Two or three is usually plenty. Remember, this is networking which is building relationships.

To be successful at networking events, you should develop some ways of moving on. As with anything else, honesty is the best policy.

Here are some great lines for doing that:

  • “Thanks for your time. I told myself I would meet three interesting people at this. I have two more to go.”
  • “There is someone over there that I need to connect with.”
  • “Is there anyone in particular here you would like to meet? I would be glad to introduce you.”

Give one or more of these a try at your next networking event and let me know how it works.

Small Talk To Big Business

Small Talk to Big Business

Remember, small talk is the warm-up that leads to the workout. The workout is talking business. To make this happen, eventually, you need to transition from small talk to real business.

When this moment comes, you will know. At some point in your exchange there will be a lull. Use this moment to get at a more meaty discussion on business (whatever that might be).

Be forewarned, however, this is not to suggest that you start to pitch them or set them up for a close. It merely suggests that once you have them comfortably engaged in conversation, you should ease into a more professional discussion of their business or yours.

For example, a nice segue might be, “Water skiing isn’t cheap! What do you do professionally to pay for it?”

Do not try to steer them. For example, a business coach, should not ask, “Do you use business coaches in your business?” A financial advisor, should not open with, “How is your 401K doing these days?” A promotional products person should not jump to “How do you use ad specialty items in your business?”

Do NOT push it. Keep the tone light and the sales probing to a minimum. If you do this right, you will have lots of opportunities to gather future business intelligence, pitch them, and close them.  Remember, people do business with those they Know, Like & Trust.

Return To Small Talk

After the professional conversation has run its course but before the conversation ends, touch back on something related to your small talk conversation.

For example: “Great talking with you. Assuming, you don’t get laid up in the hospital skiing between now and then, I would enjoy continuing our conversation over a cup of coffee sometime.”

Why is this important? By returning to small talk, you have demonstrated that you were listening and that you remembered. More subtly, however, you are reflecting back to a part of the conversation when they likely delighted in your interest in them.

Great Questions To Ignite Small Talk

Great Questions To Ignite Small Talk

Small talk kick-starts the networking process. Small talk, however, is about getting the other person talking. This begs the question: What are great questions to ignite small talk?

While there is no magic, planning is paramount. Be like an attorney – prepare your questions before you ask them. In other words, have a small handful of questions ready to go, each of which relates to the person’s life, either professionally or personally.

From there, allow the conversation to take itself wherever. A few of these questions could include…

  • What do you do? How long have you been doing it? How did you become interested in that?
  • What are some of the projects or assignments you are currently working on?
  • Are you from this area?
    • Yes – What part?
    • No – What brought you here?
  • Outside of work, what occupies you? How did you become interested in that?
  • What are some business or community organizations you are involved with?

These will give you a start. From here you might want to formulate your own series of questions. Note that these questions cannot be answered with a simple YES or NO. To generate conversation, questions must be open-ended.

And again, there is no magic. It is simply a matter of planning for how you will get and keep them talking.

Tips For Making Small Talk

Tips for Making Small Talk

Here is an important thing to understand: Small talk is NOT about filling idle time with interesting things to say. Small talk is about getting the OTHER person to fill idle time with things to say and you genuinely finding interest in it. But what if you don’t like making small talk or don’t feel like you’re very good at it? Fear not! Below are three tips for making small talk.

The key to success in small talk is having a simple, reliable game plan. Try this one:

Step One: Ask A Question

Now, remember, the key is to get them talking, so you need to be ready with questions that are open-ended. “Isn’t this weather crazy?” will not cut it. “How does this crazy weather affect you?” just might.

Step Two: Listen … Really Listen

Take an interest in what they have to say, even if the subject is not particularly interesting to you. Why? First, you just might learn something, something that could help you or something that you can use to help them (which ultimately helps you).

Second, (and this is counter-intuitive) if you take an interest in them and whatever they have to say, they will find you to be a very interesting person. It may sound backward but it’s just human nature. People tend to like those who show a genuine interest in them.

Step Three: Summarize & Share

As a follow-up (to show you were really listening), summarize what you have heard and then share a little about the subject as it relates to you. “So, as an avid water skier, all this hot weather must be great for you. But I find that it kills my golf game.”

Finally, just like the instructions on the shampoo bottle – lather, rinse, repeat – ask another question. Perhaps one that’s related to the first question or maybe some other tangent you would like to explore based on what they said in their answer. For example, “So, if you ski when the weather is hot, how do you occupy yourself when it is too cold to take to the lake?” Whatever, the case, keep them talking.