If you dread the “30 mins networking and coffee” agenda item before the main event, or feel hesitant when your senior manager recommends a “great networking opportunity” (knowing this is indeed a great opportunity, but not being quite so sure on how to actually network), then never fear, they’re my feelings too; you may find it helpful to read on.
On 14th November, together at The Runnymede Hotel, the Women in Biopharma Leadership network attended an evening with Steve Bustin, who taught us that when it comes to making your entrance in networking and connecting with others: your work, status or job role won’t speak for itself – it is you who will have to do the talking.
Sounds a pretty simple concept, so why do we often struggle to do just that?
Talk. About ourselves?
You may have read the various articles and discussion topic trends which share that women find it harder to self-promote than men, not least initiate the subject with a stranger – and it seemed that this was true for some of the attendees at our event, with an audience member explaining:
“ I know I’m good at what I do, but you’re making me say it – and that’s
uncomfortable for me.”
What Steve shared in response to this notion was both insightful and easy to remember:
1. What’s in it for them?
When introducing yourself to a new connection, think less about what you do, and emphasise what you can do for them. Think about how your clients or customers would describe your value. Not sure? Then ask them!
2. Short is sweet
Practice what you can do for others by explaining that in 60 seconds. Try again in 10 seconds. Now think of just one word that explains the value you add. Our attendees came up with words like “Connections”, “Rapport”, “Co-ordinate”, “Develop”, “Lead”, “Growth” and “Discovery”.
3. Benefits not Features
When introducing ourselves, we often talk about all the features of our role, instead of this; think about the benefits of what you provide, rather than the features of what you do.
4. Keep it Personal
We often initiate conversations with job roles or key professional responsibilities. Steve suggested that we should start with something personal. Instead of asking someone what they do, try asking them “Why have you chosen this event?”, and, “What do you want to get out of it?” You may find you connect with the person much sooner, and the professional conversation will still come later.
Thanks so much Steve for your great advice and energetic commentary! We had a great time practicing our introductions. We’ve resolved here at Cormis HQ to change the way we talk about ourselves, will you?