My first startup job was for a small bootstrapped software company providing office automation technologies. Although I wasn’t in sales, I did have to spend considerable time thinking about how I explained the company’s mission that would hopefully get prospects interested and excited in what we did. Especially at conferences.
All that said, I often found myself stumbling in wanting to describe the all and everything of what we did, instead of focusing on what really mattered.
This somewhat dampened the enthusiasm I started with. But I did get better. How could I convince anyone to listen to me if I tried to jam everything into my thirty second pitch?
Why does this happen?
The short answer is “relevant brevity“.
Longer answer: How often do you find yourself listening to answer instead of listening to learn? The truth is probably more often than you would like.
When you meet someone for the first time, you’re already contaminated by their appearance and then the moment that they open their mouth you try to work out where they’re from, how you may relate to them and how you can either get closer to them or get away from them.
Networking is about moving about
You might say, why would I want to get away from them? In a social setting that involves networking, like a meetup or a conference, part of the reason you’re there is to network, to meet new people and to learn. If you get trapped in a conversation with some types of people, you fail to grow at the event because you fail to connect with others.
Being locked into a conversation with one person, prevents you from meeting others. If you tend to be a conversation monopolist then you’re also trapping others. You don’t want to be THAT guy, the one everyone remembers for next time but for all the wrong reasons.
Starting a conversation
To start any conversation try a simple introduction and then transition into a solid conversation if you’re willing to share a bit about yourself. Remember that your objective may be different depending on the event that you’re at. You could be looking to get advice,find a business associate or simply make a friend.
Depending on your intent, don’t be afraid to ask for opinion, or advice and be direct about stuff you are genuinely interested in or intrigued by. Don’t forget your business cards – those get you connected more often than you can appreciate.
Most important, don’t make it all about you!