I went to my first speed networking event in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago and it was a very interesting experience. The event was positioned on Meet Up for Solo Entrepreneurs and I was invited by my friend Karen Cohen who has just started up her business Kaycee HR Consulting. Given that I am exploring the prospect of using Meet Up to advertise my public programs, I figured there was something to learn in going to a Meet Up event.
If you're not familiar with speed networking it's a bit like speed dating. People are lined up in two parallel rows. Each person has three minutes to pitch their business to the other person they are seated with. After six minutes you either exchange contact details or not. Participants then move along their line to the next person and run the process again. This continues till everyone has met at least nine or ten people.
What stood out for me in my hyper-accelerated interactions, was just how many of my fellow networkers were looking to extract value from the other people in the room. The predominant frame of thought which translated into their behaviour and their three minute elevator pitch was "What can you give me / do for me that will help me?"
One eye opening interaction I had with an attendee, who was dressed very casually and who lounged in their chair with a drink in their hand like they were in a nightclub, went something like this.
Me: "So what brings you to the event?
Them: "To find people who can help me progress professionally."
Me: "So what do you offer that would be of value to those people?"
To be honest I found this approach quite off putting and it was a rapport breaker. Although this was a very explicit demonstration of seeking to extract value from others, there were plenty of other examples of this attitude coming through implicitly in some of my other meetings.
One of Simon Sinek's quotes that I really align with is "The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe." One of my deeply held core values is to be of service to others. This core value is my WHY in my Golden Circle, that permeates HOW I do what I do and links all of the WHAT of what I do.
My personal Golden Circle is a really valuable format to craft a succinct, meaningful and impactful elevator pitch at a speed networking event. It also does something more powerful. It reminds me to be of service to others and to seek opportunities to add value to my interactions. My WHY informs my Reticular Activating System (RAS) as to what to filter for in the environment, and aids me in identifying people who hold similar values and are genuinely interested in building mutually beneficial, win-win, collaborative partnerships.
So the next time you're at a networking event, rather than seeking to extract value from the event or the interactions; why not change your frame of thinking and find ways to add value to the potential relationship? If you can't directly provide value by way of a service or product that you offer, maybe you can help connect them with someone you know who can? In this way you can potentially be of service to two people and add value to both relationships.
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