Friday, July 15, 2016

The Path to Powerful Self-Introductions at Business Networking and Referral Groups

It’s said that only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. As a member of a business networking and referral group (like BNI and LeTip), you can add a third: your self-introduction at every meeting. 

Your self-introduction is an invaluable marketing tool. Guests and visitors may only hear that much about your business. Members will hear it week after week.  Given the importance of these words, it’s worthwhile to spend time considering their purposes and related challenges. You’ll also want to take full advantage of recommendations to make best use of this precious time.

Your self-introduction has three main purposes:

1. To communicate who you are; the value you offer to clients; what you do; and what problem or situation you address that’s a good referral from other members. 

2. To be memorable, as you want to be immediately thought of when a need comes up for services you provide.  

3. To encourage action in the form of referrals to prospective clients from members, visitors, and other guests to your group.

You’ll face three challenges when preparing and delivering your self-introduction:

1. It’s short! Thirty seconds or even a minute (depending on your group’s procedures) is not much time to share information about your business.

2. You’ll repeat your introduction every week to the same core audience, so there’s a risk they’ll tune out eventually even if your introduction is outstanding.

3. You’ll tend to take for granted that this core audience understands and appreciates everything that you do and the numerous ways you help your clients.

Here are three recommendations for helping you meet these challenges and deliver a self-introduction that has long-lasting impact:
1. Develop a core self-introduction that answers the question “Who I am and the value I offer my clients,” following this structure:

  • Begin with statement that captures audience’s attention.  Example: “You may enjoy eating pretzels, but there’s no need for you to look like one.  And that’s the risk you take when your spine is out of alignment.  My name is John Doe.  As a chiropractor. . .”
  • Highlight how you improve your client’s condition.
  • Mention something that makes you different or qualifications you have for your work.
  • Repeat your name and the name of your business.

2. Develop other possible introductions on different themes. For example, 

  • A case study discussing how you have helped a specific client.
  • Time-sensitive information, e.g. year-end tax advice given by a CPA at meetings in November and December.
  • Other tips, e.g. things you should consider when buying homeowners insurance, with one tip given each week over a period of weeks.  

3. Prepare each of these introductions in writing, then practice repeatedly to check timing and flow of information. 

Business networking and referral groups represent a considerable investment of time and money. Spending the time to prepare engaging presentations increases the likelihood you’ll repeat the benefits you seek. 

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