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I would like to think that I am becoming a seasoned networker, and through this, I am learning how to best present myself to prospective clients and friends. Being in the image based industry for over 6 years, I'd like to share some "Do's and Don't's" to help you set up a foundation for success.
- Dress for success
You have less than seven seconds to make a first impression. If you pass that first seven seconds, then you may have a potential client. Or, at least you will be closer to closing them. Dress for both your job, and the client you wish to attract to you. If you are a cleaner, having a uniform is a great start. Have a couple different options available; one that you can go to a client's home to sell them your service (think khaki's and a polo shirt), one that you can work in (coveralls are a great thing to have if you do more than one client a day), and one that you can network in (slacks and a branded button shirt). If you are trying to attract bankers or investors, add a suit jacket. I'm sure you've heard the saying "Fake it 'till you make it" well that is very true for breaking out in the entrepreneur market.
Do - Dress for your job and your audience. Stand tall and confident, even if your knees are shaking, and you have never networked before.
Don't - Be sloppy in appearance. No jeans or khaki's to networking events.
- 1-minute self introduction
This should be something that rolls of your tongue, be short, clear, and embody what you do, but also suggest that a follow up conversation is welcome. Something that will answer the question "what do you do". For my primary business (Mary Kay) I would say something along the lines of "I empower individuals to fall in love with who they see in the mirror." When I am at networking events, My introduction is "My name is Bonnie Barlow, I am an Independent Consultant with Mary Kay, How old you are is your business, how young you are is mine." Pay attention to how people are reacting to you. Are they tuning out, or paying attention.
Do - K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Sweetie
Don't - Ramble, go into great details, or sell
- Profile Pictures
It does not matter what industry you are in, having a professional (looking) headshot is very important, especially if social media and networking sites (like this one or meetup.com) are important in how you connect with your customers. When choosing a profile picture, choose one that shows your face clearly, and is current. If getting professional headshots is not in your budget at this moment, most cell phones have excellent cameras. Treat a friend to a coffee and go for a walk in a park on a slightly overcast day and let them capture your best side. Include your picture on your print material as well.
Do - Have a profile picture that shows your face. Be consistent throughout all the platforms you advertise
Don't - don't use stock photos, or characters that don't best represent your business. In fact, don't use characters at all
- Stay current
Marketing and self promotion is an ever changing field. Unless admin tasks are creating an income stream for you, delegate them to someone who is good at them. Things like website maintenance, newsletter generation, month end, and similar tasks. It may seem like a cost in the beginning, however it will free up time for you to be able to focus on what will bring in money. Updating your business card every time you update your profile picture will also keep you current. There are several apps that make networking simpler, and get to know your mobile devices.
Do - delegate and simplify
Don't - Waste time on tasks that are not part of your strengths
- Embrace the "Golden Rule" philosophy.
Most cultures have a version of the "Golden Rule", which simply states treat others as you would have them treat you. In Mary Kay, we have a saying or concept where we are to imagine everyone wearing a sign "Make me feel important". I find this to be a very important mentality to have when doing any type of networking or personal interactions. Imagine how you would feel if you were in a group of people talking, and someone came in dominating the conversation, talked over everyone, and didn't listen to anything that was being said. Everyone has done it at some point, and everyone has been on the receiving end of it. How did it make you feel?
Do - Allow everyone to be a part of the conversation. Ask questions, and be attentive. Listen to understand.
Don't - Ignore people, talk over people, listen to respond.
My favourite motivational person currently (if he falls into the motivation category) is Simon Sinek. He has a saying that, paraphrased, says people won't remember what you do, but they will remember how you made them feel. How are you making the people around you feel? What do's and don't's do you have?
I hope you have found this to be informative. Feedback is always appreciated.