Today I want to talk a little bit about networking and building your customer relationship, your customer base, and it doesn’t really matter whether you’re just building friendships or whatever, or whether you want to just really expand your business network.
What motivated this episode is actually kind of funny. I was at an event about three weeks ago, and I saw somebody that was kind of interesting, but I didn’t get a chance to meet him. Two weeks later, last weekend, I saw him again, so I introduced myself and exchanged cards. I figured it might be an interesting person to talk to and find out a little bit more about. Yesterday he calls me up, and the first words out of his mouth is his 30-second elevator speech. I don’t know about you, and I know these things are preached all over the place, but: They tick me off.
Let me explain that a little bit. Basically, 99% of elevator speeches all come out the same way: “I either help create or increase some type of person with something to help them get, receive, attain, reach,”—whatever—“something else.” They all sound alike. It’s just like when the person comes up to your door, knocks on the door at dinnertime, and says: “Do you want to buy magazines?” You know right away the first thing they are: They’re trying to sell you something.
I thought everybody in sales knew the golden rule of making sure before you introduce your business, make sure the person knows, likes, and trusts you. I’ve known this guy for 90 seconds, so I wouldn’t say I know him. I certainly don’t have trust yet, and after that speech, it dropped through the floor. And I’m not so sure about the liking much anymore.
For example, say somebody is a dentist. Rather than saying: “I’m a dentist. I help children with keeping their teeth in the best of care and to help them get that pain-free.” You can say that way, which really sounds contrived, or you can just say: “I’m a dentist, specializing in pain-free children’s dentistry.” Then immediately turn around and ask the person about them. Show your interest in them. That’s where you’re going to find like.
Thinking back in the times of dating, when you were dating, you would be liked more by asking questions about the other person and being interested in what they say. That’s what networking is about, it’s almost like dating. You’re building relationships, you’re hopefully building friendships. If it doesn’t lead to business, so what? They might make you a referral, they might like you, and if somebody says something, they’ll say: “Oh, go see John Doe. He’s a good dentist. From what I heard, he does really well with children.”
Another part of it is be careful what you’re bragging about and what you’re telling the person. If you’ve had some time (keep in mind this was 10 years later the guy gives me a call), he’s got my card, my website is on there, he could look at the bio, see what I do. To be turning around and talking to me, (and he’s really trying to impress me) and bragging to me about how he’s a numbers person… Wait a minute. What I usually do is I turn around and say: “Oh, great. Have you looked at my bio?” Because what’s running through my mind right now is: “You obviously haven’t read it or looked at it.” Keep in mind in my bio right upfront it says: “I have a PhD in mathematical and statistical economics,” and this guy is trying to impress me that he’s a numbers person. By the way, this isn’t the first one; I’ve had dozens, if not, hundreds of people that try to impress me that they’re a numbers person. Fine. That’s great. I’m glad to meet somebody that’s also, but show that you have understood a little bit about me if there’s been some time passed.
If there’s something that you just met me and you’re expressing, that’s fine. But if you’re calling me back a week or two later, or you’re meeting me a second time and you’ve had the business card, my first question is going to be: “Oh, wow. Great. By the way, a little bit about my background. Did you see my website? Did you see my bio?” When that person then turns around and says: “Yeah, I sort of looked at it,” okay, there goes that like and trust factor again. Know, like, and trust. What I know about the guy is not going very well. I’m basically, at this point, saying: “How do I get out of here?”
I know the elevator speech is supposed to be a popular thing, and everybody is doing it, and everybody you hear about: “Oh, what’s your elevator speech? What’s your 30-second overview?” That’s fine, but find a better way of doing it. Be a little more creative than: “Gee, I don’t know how to do it, so let me see, what’s the pattern? I’m supposed to say: ‘I do such and such with certain people to help them get such and such.’” That is really dead obvious that you’re immediately trying to sell me something.
The first words out of your mouth should not be trying to sell me something. You should be trying to show me that you’re interesting, that you’re interested in me, and then I would end up possibly being interested in you after I felt comfortable with you. The idea is that you want to ask those questions so the person turns around and says: “Oh, that’s interesting. How do you do that?” Or: “Where do you do it?” Then you can have a follow-up. At the same time, you’re never really pushing and pushing and pushing.
If you want to gain a wider audience, gain more people that are interested, and I don’t really care what your business is: Try to show interest in them. Try not to attack them. Try not to literally hold them hostage in an elevator with your 30-second thing that has bored the heck out of them. Yes, I know sometimes it works. It may work more so in certain types of businesses than others. As the price goes up, I would imagine the success level goes down.
As I say, think in terms of dating. If you think in terms of dating, you will increase your audience. Why? Because when you’re trying to date or trying to introduce yourself to people, as opposed to trying to sell something, you are doing that which truly is interesting. You’re showing interest in the other person. Pick up some books on dating… Except your spouse may have a problem with that. But pick up and take a look at things about how to meet people. Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People; not a 30-second elevator speech.
With that, good luck, go out there, make some more friends, get some more experience, and by the way, this is a great way to start introducing and start meeting yourself with people who you want to meet, that you want to become friends because you want to learn new things and attain new levels of understanding or new levels of skills. That idea of those five friends, (Friends and Families comfort zone affecting you) you’re going to be changing your environment. You’re not going to be doing it and you’re not going to be getting those new people if you’re trying to or appearing to be selling them something. You want to be making friends and expanding your network. Thank you.