In Liz Lynch’s Networking Smart: Attract A Following In Person and Online, Liz explains how to incorporate your elevator pitch into a longer introduction sequence when networking. By relaying your “pitch” through one-on-one conversation, it becomes “a set of blocks that you can configure in different ways depending on the situation”. Moreover, your pitch will become “a way of talking about yourself that is informative, inviting, and intriguing”. As such, your pitch is more like a friendly game of catch (you’re tossing the ball gently so it can be caught and thrown back to you).
As conversational blocks, consider what parts of your elevator pitch to move forward when answering questions. For instance, “What is Your Name?” is a question that also allows you to showcase your company in a succinct and memorable manner (“Hi, I’m John Potter from the GRAPE Networking Group”). Doing so will more likely engender further questions.
Likewise, be sure to have a well crafted tagline ready that generates interest (Simply stating that you’re an author, consultant, or speaker will likely be forgotten). Some questions will allow you to articulate your networking goals (especially if they’re specific, i.e. “I’m looking to advance my marketing career”). People enjoy being of assistance, especially if they can help others connect with someone they know.
Several questions that might be asked are seemingly designed to shortcut the “know, trust, and like” requirement. For instance, a person may ask “Why do They Come to You?” or “Why Do They Choose You?” Don’t be left scrambling for answer. Be sure you know how to articulate what differentiates you from others (deep knowledge of the industry? personal service?). As Liz states “This is the time to highlight something special about you and your company that would make someone feel good about referring a friend to you”
A compelling story about how your product or service helped a client is an especially effective here (as it would be if they simply asked “Can you give me an example?). After all, stories are easy to grasp and remember.
You can be assured that there’s at least some interest in product or service if you hear “What’s your Ideal Prospect?” (Liz advises saying “anybody and everybody”, this prohibits others from “rifling through their mental database of contact to pick someone out for you as a referral”)
Repeated positive feedback to these answers might just lead to lead to “If I’m Interested In Your Services, What Should I Do Next?” As Liz suggests however, this question “will rarely be served up to you so nicely”. However phrased, you should offer to talk to the client further about the problems or challenges they’re facing. If they agree, give them your business card and state that you will give them a call tomorrow (and don’t wait past 48 hours to meet with).
In all, networking success is predicated on being prepared. That means anticipating what questions might be asked and how you intend to answer them. Likewise, no small amount of empathy is required by a networker seeking to achieve business success. Active listening with the intent to be of service shines through loud and clear in the end to potential clients.