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How to present your business at networking meetings

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If you’re like us, you’ll be out on the networking circuit promoting your business to local groups and building relationships with like-minded independent business owners. The question is, ‘how do you present your business without feeling like your being too salesy?’

It’s a common question – lot’s of business owners don’t want to come across as pushy when they promote their business, and can quickly recognise a ‘hunter’ in the room too. We find the best way to talk about your business is to begin building relationships with the people in the room by sharing your genuine passion for what you do and talking about your WHY (Simon Sinek’s, ‘Start with Why’ is a great read by the way).

All networking meetings give you an opportunity to speak for a few seconds, usually 60 – some call it an elevator pitch – what would you say if you had no longer than an elevator ride with your next best client? Personally, we’re not keen on elevators, or pitches, but you do have to make sure your point comes across…

Before the meeting

Before you arrive or log on for your meeting we find setting objectives really helpful. This is how you can measure your success. For example, your objectives may be;

  • Be brave enough to attend a meeting for the first time
  • Get two 1:1 meetings
  • Get feedback on a new product
  • Find a new supplier.

Knowing what you want to achieve will not only help you determine if the meeting was successful, but it will help you focus on sticking to your point and keeping conversations relevant.

60 seconds

Given a formal 60 seconds, we recommend you start with your name and business and a quick overview of what you do, ‘Thank you for having me today, I’m Nic Rutherford from UK Business Buddy and we save independent business owners money on their customer card transactions…’

By the time you’ve finished your 60 seconds, that quick overview may have been forgotten, so it’s useful to end with a memorable tag line, ‘Nic Rutherford, your local payment partner’.

The middle can be whatever you want it to be, according to your objectives; a poem, an example of how you’ve helped your best customer, a testimonial from someone you’ve helped, examples of people you’ve been speaking to or an overview of your product or website. As long as it educates the group about who you help and how.

Then, ask to be connected with someone you’d like to help. This bit is vital because you’re there like everyone else, hoping to make new connections. If you listen to someone speaking week after week, but don’t realise one of your contacts is someone they’d love to speak to, how can you ever put them in touch?

As a guide, 140 words takes around 60 seconds to say clearly…

5 – 10 minutes

As a member of a group, you may be given the opportunity to speak for longer and this is where you can introduce PowerPoint or props!

Planning is key here, so try splitting your time into segments;

  1. Introduction
  2. The meaty bits
  3. Summary
  4. Closer.

Again this is about educating people about you, your business and how they can help you grow, so present in that order. Business is founded on relationships so there’s nothing wrong with including a bit about yourself – but we’re here for business, not to learn your life story or read a list of your employment history off a slide!

The meaty bits can include your USPs – unique selling points; what makes you different from the rest? And don’t say you care, deliver on time, or are qualified – of course you are and so is everyone else! Talk about what led you to this business, your story and WHY you do what you do. And don’t forget to tell them exactly what you too and show examples or give out samples if you can.

In summary, tie it all together with who you help; what type of people or businesses they are, how you can ease their pain, and why they need you above anyone else. Ask for introductions, mention if you’re on LinkedIn or social pages and if your meeting is online, put this important stuff in the chat box too so you can start building connections right away.

Then close with your thanks, name and memorable tag line…

After the meeting

There’s a phrase in business that goes something like this: ‘The fortune’s in the follow up’, meaning you won’t gain anything if you don’t contact people after the meeting, or go through with action points to achieve those early objectives.

Did you want to get two 1:1’s? Then find the attendees on LinkedIn or email them and ask for a meeting to learn more their business.

Did you want to share a new product? Again, find them on email or social and tag them in to a promotional post about it. You will often be sent a list of meeting attendees afterwards.

Networking is primarily about building relationships, and social media, especially LinkedIn is an extension of that, so connect outside of the meeting and take the opportunity to tell people about you and your why…

If you focus on building relationships at this stage, you won’t come across as pushy.

If you have any great examples of how a presentation went for you, or one of someone else’s that was particularly memorable, please share them with us, we’d love to hear your stories!

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