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.

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.

Why Is There Apprehension Towards Small Talk?

Apprehension Towards Small Talk

When it comes to building solid networking relationships, small talk is a powerful tool. Small talk opens the door to knowing, liking, and trusting another person. So, why is there apprehension towards small talk?

For many, the thought of engaging in small talk makes them anxious. This anxiety comes from one thing – FEAR. Fear of …

  • being rejected.
  • having nothing to contribute.
  • getting stumped (or running out of conversation).
  • getting stuck in a conversation with, well, that stranger that Mom warned you about.

FEAR NOT because the strangers your mother warned you about are no longer interested. You have plenty of things to contribute to a conversation and with a little planning and practice you will never get stumped (and if you do, there is a way out).

As for rejection, know this: Everyone has this fear. EVERYONE. Even the most well connected, confident person will tell you that, deep down inside, they have this apprehension. If everyone has this fear, then everyone will welcome you coming up and jumping into a conversation with them.

So, make someone’s day and take away their fear. Engage in some small talk.

Mining Networking Events

Mining Networking Events

Networking events are generally not opportunities for closing business. While you may stumble upon a new client at an event, it’s likely that few if any clients will result from them. Rather than handing out business cards and hoping for success, try mining networking events instead.

What’s the secret to mining an event? Think about how a miner approaches his task. He doesn’t tap-tap here, then tap-tap there, hoping to find some gold. He selects a location where he suspects he’ll find what he’s after, then works that location for a while. As you embark upon networking at events, act like a miner. Do not consume yourself with meeting as many people as you can, collecting and distributing dozens of business cards (tap-tap, tap-tap). Instead, focus on really connecting with a small handful of people. Remember, meaningfully connecting is about the quality of the connection and not the quantity.

Also, remember that networking events are everywhere. Business after-hours are networking events. Tradeshows are networking events. Business parties are networking events. And so are social parties, tailgates, and really any gathering of people. Use each to expand your base of connections, from which you build relationships. Follow this strategy and you’ll be mining networking events in no time!

The Golden Rule of Networking In Action

The Golden Rule of Networking In Action

No doubt, when interacting with others at networking events you are hopeful of getting things … clients, important contacts, and useful information. Understand this: The people you interact with are hoping to get these things, too. You can make an indelible impression on them by finding some way of helping them – even if only in a small way. So, as they talk, run whatever they are saying through a filter that queries: “How can I add value to this person?” This is the Golden Rule of Networking in action – Give first and get second.

There is nothing that says that you have to help them right there and then. If you can help them in that moment, great. If not, do not despair.

Just understand that you make the most of building that connection by trying to find some way you can add value to them later. It might be a referral. It might be a contact. It might be useful information for them. Whatever it may be, keep the Golden Rule of Networking in action – Give First, Get Second!

Beyond Initiating Contact

Beyond Initiating Contact

Once you are beyond initiating contact at a networking event (making eye contact, smiling, and saying hello) one of two things will happen:

  1. Nothing will happen; the person will just move along. So what? Don’t take it personally. There are many reasons why they did not stop and none of them are related to you.
  2. They stop and are open to expanding the initial contact into a more meaningful connection.

When this happens, ensure to do these three things:

  1. Offer Your Hand: Offer your hand in anticipation of a handshake, the true first impression. The handshake should be firm, intersecting your thumb web with theirs. Not too firm; a bone crusher might serve to imply dominance. And not too soft; a “limp fish” may be interpreted as disinterest. Remember, it is better to not be remembered for your handshake than to be remembered for a bad one.
  2. Offer Your Name: As you shake hands, offer your name and be sure to enunciate your first name clearly. There are two reasons why this is important. First, unless it is someone you know well, offering your name serves to eliminate any potential embarrassment if the person doesn’t recall your name from an earlier encounter. Second, when you offer your name, they are likely to offer theirs in return.
  3. Clarify Their Name: If the person does not reciprocate when you offer your name, ask, “What is your name?” Regardless of how you came to know the person’s name, clarify it aloud, saying something like, “It’s great to meet you. Susan, right?” or “Hi, Susan. Do you go by Sue or Susan?”

So, as you move beyond initiating contact, these steps will help you better remember their name. In addition, it will subtly imply that their name is important to you, which it is.