So you've signed up for a some networking events, you're feeling super organised having them all in your calendar, you know your target audience is going to be in that room but when it comes to it you're absolutely terrified. I think 99% of the population feels your pain. Since my children have been at school I've really noticed how inhibited adults are - firstly from the trauma that is those first school drop offs when it literally takes months to make friends with other Mums and secondly from watching how easily 5 year olds make friends. I've not tried striding up to a complete stranger recently and announce "be my friend" but it clearly works if you're under 4 foot tall.
OK - let's tell it how it is :-
Going into a room full of strangers - hand sweaty scary.
Going into a room full of people you 'sort of' know - still scary, possibly more scary because you can't hide behind anonymity.
Having to sell yourself - at best, uncomfortable & at worse petrifying.
Distilling what you do into 1 minute or heaven forbid 30 seconds! - Holy crap.
Delivering that 1min/30 second pitch in a voice that commands the attention of the room - pretty damn impossible.
Remembering what you do - the sods law timing of goldfish memory syndrome.
Saying your pitch exactly how you practiced - aaaahhhh it's all gone tits up!
If any of that sounds familiar then take a deep breath and read on.
It may be a cliche but practice does indeed make perfect and to quote another old chestnut - fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
Sit down and write exactly what you do in terms of -
A) what issue do you solve for people,
B) how do you solve the problem
C) what result will they get?
Write a draft, leave it for a day, go back to it.
Keep it short & snappy.
Stick a call to action on the end - what do you want people to do with the information you've just given them? Come and speak to you, refer you on to friends, come to an event?
Let your personality shine through - this takes a while. Authenticity breeds trust.
Memorise it, stand in front of a mirror and practice, get some feedback from your nearest & dearest. This is the bit that's often the hardest because you potentially find out that, what you think is crystal clear, is in fact as clear as mud to everyone else. Don't, at this point, stick your heels in - let your heart sink a bit & then change it.
D-day - take 3 deep, slow breaths before you start. You can do this.
If it all goes to plan then give yourself a pat on the shoulder & say well done. Feed those confidence levels.
If it all goes wrong then I guarantee you 3 things -
1) you will not spontaneously combust, although you feel this might be best.
2) the lives of your loved ones will not be in danger.
3) no one else on the planet is going to give you as hard a time as you're going to give yourself.
We've all had days when it just hasn't happened but rest assured it's not always to our disadvantage - those of you at a recent Lewes networking meeting might remember me totally losing the plot during my pitch! However more than a handful of people said they would remember me because of it. See, there's no such thing as bad press.