Q. Dear Zenagos,
I have a conference coming up, and there’s “speed networking” on the agenda. Is that like speed dating? How do I prepare for speed networking?
Speed networking is actually an awesome activity for a small business owner. It provides efficient sales practice, and it can be a great way to get new leads. At the very least, you will meet a couple of people, so you’ll have someone to sit with at lunch.
How Does Speed Networking Work?
The format of speed networking can vary, but you are usually paired with another person, sitting or standing face-to-face for a predetermined amount of time (usually about 4-5 minutes). You will each use about half of this time to introduce yourself, exchange business cards (or LinkedIn QR codes or electronic business cards), and briefly describe your company and offering. When the time is up, one set of people moves so that everyone has a new networking partner. After several rounds, you will be surprised how many new people you have met (and how tired you are!).
Most People Waste their Opportunities
If you are a small business owner, every conversation you have is an opportunity to gather a new lead. You never know who will be interested in your offering – or who else they know who might be a potential customer. However, most of us waste our precious networking opportunities talking about the weather or the local sports team or news. You paid good money to attend that conference (or at least on the transportation to get there), so don’t waste your valuable time. Speed networking is an efficient way to get past the small talk and discuss what you do.
How Do You Prepare for Speed Networking?
The key to successful speed networking is preparation. Make sure you can deliver your pitch or your “ask” smoothly and concisely. You should target being able to say what you do in 1 to 2 short sentences.
For example, a Zenagos Expert might say, “I’m a co-founder of Zenagos, and we provide affordable consulting to small business owners.” When you get a chance, ask the other person your question: “Do you know of any business owners who sell services who might need help growing their business?” Practice this in front of a mirror and smile. Practice it until you can say it without stumbling and then give it a go at your networking event. Practice it on your family members, your friends, and your dog. Practice it until people think you’re a little nutty. Keep at it until saying your pitch is second nature.
If you have practiced well, then the actual speed networking should be enjoyable. Get curious about your networking partners. Ask questions, show some interest in them, and have a little fun.
Related Blog Posts
Zenagos Expert Networking Tip: Opening a Conversation
Zenagos Expert Networking Tip: How to Make an Ask
Zenagos Expert Sales Tip: Talk Less, Listen More
Zenagos Expert Sales Tip: People Buy from People they Like
Zenagos Expert Sales Tip: How to Ask for the Sale