I enjoy meeting new people and face to face networking is something I really look forward to.
All things being equal I make an effort to meet and speak to at least 3 people whom I have never met before at each event and learn about what they do, their interests etc
And on 1/7/09 whilst at a networking event in London I had the same strategy in mind. I joined a group as someone in the group had caught my eye from early on in the evening. A discussion was already under way so I stood by and listened and even joined in the discussion.
Our host was part of this group and he left to find us drinks. This terminated the discussion, and gave me an opportunity to speak to the person that had caught my eye.
As he started to introduce himself to me two people joined the group. He stopped and greeted them too. It seemed like the two chaps had been let loose.
They spoke at length about their project and the rest of us in the group listened, some in the group walked away, our host had returned with the drinks, he listened for a while and moved on.
At some point I managed to get a word in and I said to the two people, interesting project and I heard you say you are trying to launch it in Africa, how can I help
BIG MISTAKE, the academic chap of the two went into all the science of the project etc
I interrupted him again and I asked “what sort of person are you trying to meet in Africa and have you got a preference of African countries?
Is it the man on the street, a civil servant a minister etc, What do they look like?
“Oh, the general mass” came the reply and at this stage I had lost the will to live as everyone else had left the group.
I thought to myself give it one more try! So I said to them
Your project is a really good idea and I think most if not all the African governments would want to talk to you, but you may want to consider coming up with a way to explain it simply perhaps in 60seconds with emphasis on what problem you hope to solve in order to get their attention
So if you would like to start telling me who you really would like me to introduce to and what would I say to them in 60 seconds that would encourage them to want to speak/meet you!
The penny finally dropped and they both told me about their project and the person they would like to meet in on sentence
I didn’t get to speak to the person I had wanted to speak to but I must say I learned a thing or two.
Your message may be very clear to you but it is important that it is even clearer to your audience
I did wonder what would happen if these two people spoke to 500 people at networking events over a course of say 6 months and none of those 500 people understood who it is they want to meet or what their project is all about!
Would those 500 people go on and advocate for them?
I have to be honest and say they certainly didn’t inspire me to review my network for people they may want to meet!
Some tough questions for you and me
“Do I put my message across clearly enough for people to understand what I do in simple/memorable terms? “
“Does this enable people to advocate for me in my absence?”