60-second networking introductions – 5 practical and 3 confidence tips for delivering great 60 second speeches

One thing that terrifies most people when they start attending networking meetings is the prospect of standing up in a room full of strangers and speaking for 60 seconds about your business.

“What do I say?” we wonder. “What if I keep rambling or go off on a tangent?” “How do I keep to time? I keep running out of time!” or even “I can’t think of enough to say to fill 60 seconds!”

These are some of the questions and comments that we discussed at our Busy Mums networking meeting for mums who want a child-friendly place to find mutual support, advice and contacts.

Here are five practical tips that I shared about what to say and how to structure your 60 seconds.

1. Start and end with your company name.

People may not catch your name at the beginning. And often, it’s only when they hear about what you do, or what referrals you’re looking for, that they are prompted to write your name down. Reminding them at the end helps them to remember who you are and to be able to get in touch with you after the meeting.

2. Talk about what you do

Keep it brief and focused. Rather than put yourself under pressure to reel off a list, start with a broad statement, like “I’m a Virtual Assistant” or “I’m a photographer” and then focus on one service or one product that you provide, for example “one thing I specialise in is “wedding photography” or “I’d like to talk to you today about my copy editing and proofreading.”

If you attend a regular networking meeting, this approach also keeps your 60 seconds fresh, holds attention and educates other members of the group on an ongoing basis, giving something different for them to be thinking about and looking out for each week or month.

3. Talk about the benefits

Make sure you talk about who your clients are and how they benefit from hiring or buying from you: “I help… to… with/by/so that….” Be sure to talk about the benefits, not just the features of your product or service. So if you offer a 24 hour turnaround as a feature, depending on your product, the benefit might be that your clients avoid missing their proposal deadline, avoid paying a fine or getting into trouble for leaving an anniversary gift till the last minute! Or if you design beautiful logos and websites, talk about the increase in visitors and paying clients who respond to a more professional or distinctive image.

4. Be specific about who you want to be referred to

“Anybody and everybody” draws a blank. You’re more likely to bring someone specific to mind if you say “someone who is expecting a baby” or “an arts student” or “an accountant” – someone that people can go away and contact, or be on the lookout for. You could even name a particular company you’re trying to get in touch with.

Don’t forget useful contacts and referral partners too. Complementary businesses who serve the same types of clients as you can be great for mutual referrals. Someone at the meeting may not know of anyone about to get married, but they may well know of caterers, wedding planners, dressmakers, cake makers and contacts with venues.

5. Have a call to action

Do you want a potential client to ring you, visit your website, have a card or sign up for your free newsletter? Or do you want permission to call them? If you tell your networking partners what to say once they have spotted a potential referral, this makes it a lot easier for them to refer more business to you.

And here are three tips to boost your confidence with 60 second networking introduction:

1. Be yourself

You don’t have to be a comedian, a silver-tongued salesman, a natural speaker or incredibly outgoing to deliver an effective 60 second introduction. And it’s ok to be nervous! Networking is about developing relationships, and people connect much more naturally when you are honest, authentic and willing to communicate. So smile, be human and be friendly whether you’re delivering or listening to a 60 seconds speech.

2. Be prepared

Seasoned networkers may look like they make it up as they go along, and get it right effortlessly, but there’s often more practise and preparation that goes on behind the scenes. If it helps your nerves, don’t be afraid to write yourself a script, practice it beforehand so you feel confident and comfortable with the timing, and even use it in the meeting itself if it helps you. Reading from a script may mean you’re not maintaining eye contact with your audience, but it will help you to deliver your message with clarity and confidence.

Preparation is especially key for introverts, who often communicate better when they’ve had the chance to think through and prepare what they want to say. For example, when the senior minister at our church preaches, he seems so confident and conversational that you wonder if he just makes it up on the spot. Truth is he prepares and practises A LOT, and yes he’s an introvert too.

3. Be creative

You don’t have to be a performer to deliver a great 60 second speech. You can be creative in finding other ways of communicating. With pictures, videos or samples of your work, for example. Or even a client’s testimonial.

I hope these tips have been useful to you. I’d love to read your comments, which you can share in the box below. Or even better, put together a 60 seconds speech right now and share it with us here!

  • http://www.smarttalkers.blogspot.com Libby Hill

    That’s great because I hear that alot ‘I wouldn’t know what to say’ or ‘I can’t talk about myself’. I’ll pass the link on to them, thank you

  • http://profile.typepad.com/scrivenystaffordwordpresscom Scrivenystafford.wordpress.com

    My goodness, this shows how new I am to this business idea, I hadn’t even thought about introducing myself at networking events, thanks for some useful tips Grace :)

  • http://www.grace-marshall.com/blog Grace Marshall

    Thanks Libby! Really glad it’s useful to you Liz. If you have any questions fire away :)

  • http://www.babybudgteing.co.uk becky

    I am quite a confident person and I love to talk . Your tips give good focus and help me condense and control my natural inclination to present all of me!

  • http://feliciaslattery.com Felicia Slattery

    Let me pull out my soap box for a second….
    As someone who teaches public speaking & communication for a living, I REALLY do NOT like “elevator speeches.” Here’s why I almost never use the elevator speech I have just in case — and in what situation(s) I do use it:
    If the purpose of being at a networking meeting or party (or wherever people will ask you, “So what do you do?” is to come up as a topic), is to engage a person and get to know them at least on some sort of personal or professional level for the moment, spitting some memorized schtick at them is pretty much the opposite of actual connecting.
    What to do instead… personalize your content to the actual human being you’re talking to. Have a conversation with him/her. Ask a question about them. For example let’s say a social media expert who runs campaigns for women business owners named Sheila could say to me something like,
    F: “Hi Sheila! So tell me more about yourself. What do you do?” (I don’t ever ask THAT question, but let’s for the sake of this incredibly long comment say I do)
    S: “Felicia, you’re at this meeting because you’re in business for yourself, right?”
    F: “Sure. I just love this group of women business owners.”
    S: “In addition to in person networking meetings like this, do you spend any time online doing any social media like Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn?”
    F: “Yes! I LOVE social media. It’s been one of the most important tools I use to effectively communicate my messages online. I’ve connected with loads of people from all over the world. Are you active?”
    S: “Definitely! It’s great you are, too. There are so many women who would like to be, but let’s face it, social media can be confusing — and can take a lot of time if you let it.”
    F: “Tell me about it!”
    S: “You asked what I do… I actually run social media campaigns for women business owners who need some help freeing up their time but still want the work done. In fact, I have a few clients like you who understand the power of social media and like to do a lot on their own, but I set up marketing posts in advance for them and free them up from some of the more mundane and less personal aspects of social media.”
    ——-
    See– we had a conversation where she was able to play off my comments where I said how I connect with people on social media and that I agreed it could take a lot of time. If I said something like “I don’t have time for all that junk” or “I tried the Twitter thing once, but I don’t get it,” the conversation could have gone in an entirely different direction. But she would be able to respond to my exact situation because she didn’t just blurt out her answer right away in the conversation.
    When would I use an elevator speech? At a meeting where everyone is going around the room and you have about 10-15 seconds to introduce yourself. You’ve got to have something smart and memorable. And heck, even then I often change up what I’m saying or doing to shake up the room a bit!
    ——-
    Returning soap box to under the counter, now. Ahem.
    Felicia Slattery
    http://SignatureSpeechSecrets.com

  • http://www.vickiknights.co.uk Vicki Knights

    Thank you SO much for this post Grace. I’m currently practising for my first 60 second pitch for a networking meeting on Monday so this has helped a lot!

    • http://www.grace-marshall.com/blog Grace Marshall

      You’re very welcome Vicki, glad to be of help to you. Enjoy your meeting!

  • http://www.vickiknights.co.uk Vicki Knights

    Thank you SO much for this post Grace. I’m currently practising for my first 60 second pitch for a networking meeting on Monday so this has helped a lot!

  • Alice

    Interesting blog post, thank you. I’m a reasonably confident person but always forget to say my company name at the end! Talking about the benefits and being specific about who you’d like to be referred to is also a very good tip. I will make sure I apply these skills next time!

    • http://www.grace-marshall.com/blog Grace Marshall

      Thanks for your comment Alice and glad you found these tips useful. The great thing about doing regular 60 second introductions is you get lots of ‘next times’ to practise and shape it as you go along!

  • http://www.priyashah.com Priya Florence Shah

    I just printed out my 60-second speech thanks to your excellent tips.

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