OK, so you’ve discovered what you are brilliant at and love to do – what I call your “Joyful Genius”, and you’re even willing to own up to it, and take it out into the world. And you know that networking is a great way to meet the people who will value your unique talent – or who might know the people who will. So how do you use networking effectively to get to meet the right people?
The first thing to remember is that not everybody is as excited about your new-found genius as you are – so don’t go into full-on ‘broadcast’ mode, and blab your finely-honed elevator pitch in the face of everyone you meet. That’s almost as bad as moving around the room interrupting people to thrust your business card in their hand (the networking equivalent of spam).
There’s a reason it’s called an elevator pitch – it’s was originally devised as a way to get that all-important next meeting with the CEO of your perfect client when you manage to get in the elevator with them. Elevator pitches are intended to be used when you have a very limited time, and have to get someone’s attention quickly. That’s not the way it is when you are networking – people are generally looking to have a real conversation with you. Unless you bore the pants off them with a generic pitch that has no relevance to them, of course – then they’ll move quickly on to someone more interesting.
Which brings us to what you *should* do: be interested and interesting. Find out something about them, about their Joyful Genius – then you can see whether yours can help them to live theirs (or vice versa – don’t forget the possibility that you might even buy something at a networking event!) That means having a real conversation with a real person – treating them as an individual, not just another prospect (by the way, until you know whether you can do anything for them, they are *not* a prospect, at best they’re just a suspect).
That’s not to say you can’t talk about your genius at all, you absolutely can – in a way that is relevant to the person you’re talking to, or to people they know. Once you know how what you do fits into their world, feel free to wax lyrical, to let them see the enormous enthusiasm you have for your work. That way, not only do you show them the respect of communicating at an individual, personal level, you also have a much greater chance of them ‘getting’ what you do, why it matters to them, and how it could be immensely valuable to them.
A real win-win situation, I’d say!
So my challenge for you this week: what questions could you ask, that would show you are interested in the other person, and help you know whether you can help them?