For over 18 years now, I’ve found that attending live events, workshops and monthly connection groups (aka networking meetings) is a huge part of my success strategy. Even with social media and virtual tools like Zoom, I find that being in a room with other people is key to landing great opportunities.
Over the years, I noticed I would attend some events and feel inspired and motivated for days.
But other times, I would leave feeling depleted and as if it was a total waste of time. I needed a nap just to get back into my flow!
After a while it hit me. Some of these events I would establish real connections where other events I felt like I’d have to “pitch” something to someone in order to fit the theme of the event. Having to abandon my magic, I felt like a lost bunny in the lion den. I don’t pitch, I wouldn’t even call myself a good networker! I connect – and even after 18 years in this business I still have no idea how to do a succinct 30 second elevator speed! No wonder I felt depleted.
One of the events I attended every year was for very high level speakers and authors. A highlight at the event was called “Speed Networking.” The first year I went I was completely exhausted after this segment and felt a complete sense of “less than” energy from the group. I distinctly remember feeling that even though this was a significant group of players in the industry, this was not an event that felt aligned because I wasn’t in my usual magic.
I’m a connector. I like having conversations to see where something might go. I like to “feel into” someone’s energy and then decide if I’m interested. I’ve found that my best speaking gigs, interview requests and even clients come after a conversation where we explore what each other is needing.
I’ve never felt proficient with a the elevator pitch. Can I do one? Yes. Does it come across well? Usually. Does it make ME feel connected? Nope.
A few months back I attended an event where I was in the audience instead of speaking for a change. And, you may have guessed it, I had to give a 2 minute pitch! This time, I did do my pitch but I also made sure to create conversations with as many people in the room as possible. The result? I kept my energy high while creating several speaking and interview opportunities.
If you are going to attend live events and workshops, you need to know what style will help your energy stay high. If I distill my connection process down into steps, here are three tips that can make an instant difference in your results:
1. Lead with Your Magic
When you show up at an event, the very first thing you must do is crank up your inner and outer magic. It starts with what happens inside your head. If you are new, are going through a change in your business and aren’t certain how to communicate it yet, or had a significant financial set back and are feeling low, this is crucial. Many of my clients over the years have said that going to networking meetings feels depleting, especially the 30 second pitch part! You must get connected to your magic so you can emanate an attractive energy. You may want to meditate or go for a walk and remind yourself of all the amazing gifts you have to give.
Or write out a catchy way to let people know what problems you help solve. Remember it all starts inside. Then, as my friend Joel Bauer says, you must wrap your package (aka what you wear) to be in alignment with your magic.
I’ve often been told that when I walk in a room, people notice because I am confident, I wear clothes that match my brand and I smile a lot. I lead with my magic so it makes people want to approach me. Try it…you’ll notice a huge difference.
2. Connect First, Educate Second
Many years ago my good friend Adam Urbanski gave me a tip in networking situations that has served me quite well. Listen first, find out what people need/want, then educate them on what you do that solves their problem. So many times I watch well-meaning business owners “accost” the person they are speaking to with their agenda and never really take the time to get to know what their needs. No one likes to feel pitched too.
Building a real connection creates a reason to continue the transaction beyond that first meeting. If someone feels pitched too they will most likely rebuff your attempts to connect after the event. But when someone feels that you have truly connected and can help them SOLVE their pain, they will be attracted to you and open to furthering the dialogue.
3. Wow With Follow Up
Remember the 80/20 rule? Well it works with the connections you make at live events (and if you read this blog post, you’ve got some great tools for follow up.) Know that the meeting and exchanging of contact information is that sweet “20%”. But what you do in the 80% afterward is where the traction happens.
Let me first be very clear about what you DON’T want to do: just put someone on your email list and never make a real connection. First off, that’s SPAM and you’ll get blacklisted eventually. Second, there’s nothing that screams “YOU ARE JUST A LEAD” more than putting someone into an automated flurry of generic emails.
Depending on the level of connection, I recommend you pick up the phone or send a personalized card. You can follow up by email and share with them a resource. Often I’ll invite a new connection into my private Facebook Community, Amplify your Success. Its a great way for us to get to know each other — plus there’s so many valuable resources posted there! Likewise, if they have a powerful message or are an influential expert, I’ll invite them to be a guest on my Amplify your Success podcast.
And, don’t give up too early. Most connections made at live events need nurturing. Reach out over a several month period. For instance, I met a wonderful woman last summer at an event who I stayed in contact with. She’s now been a guest on my podcast, and we are exploring doing a live event together. And, recently someone who I met back in 2003 at an event just joined my Awaken Leadership Lab THIS YEAR.
Therefore, if you are a lot like me and you thrive on building connections while learning valuable tools to expand your reach in business, check out my Amplify Your Success Community (its free right now.)
I’d love to hear any of your tips on how to go from “pitching” to connecting. I’m sure we can all benefit from ways to experience more of our magic as we meet new people.