We often hear how we are supposed to create an introduction or an elevator pitch. We read about taglines and slogans. What we really need to focus on is what to do afterward we meet someone.
The closing to a presentation is not quite the same thing as the closing to an elevator pitch or an introduction. When you’re closing a presentation, you have obviously had much more time to offer information, tell stories, and provide statistics. You’re in a much better position to extend a powerful call to action. Some would call this harvesting, as in you’ve planted the seeds, cultivated your field of possible clients with facts, figures, examples, stories and a persuasive delivery, and now your efforts are paying off by yielding new leads and potential clients.
However, at a networking event or an initial introduction, attempting to haul in new clients and making sales is premature. All you should be doing is trying to establish rapport, find common ground, and offer help.
Introductions are the social currency of business. A good introduction can be the beginning of a great relationship. As expressed by a writer in Forbes magazine,
“an introduction is the fuel of almost any healthy ecosystem. But, if you mess it up, you will be known for it… and will lose the essential trust for an unforeseeable future, and trust is difficult to win back”.
If there is someone you would like to be introduced to and you know someone who can initiate a conversation between you and this individual, by all means, ask them. However, you’ll need to provide the introducer with the reasons why they should use their own social currency to connect the two of you. Tell them what you’re working on or what it is about your products or services that would be of interest to that person. If you’re simply another purveyor of goods and services that the person already uses, you’ll need to provide a good reason why they should want to speak with you.
If you meet someone at a networking event or a business meeting and want to connect with them in the future, you’ll need to provide a reason why it will be worth their while. “Getting to know you” works okay but offering a more tangible reason will create anticipation and result in them being more eager to continue the discussion in the future. Again, it is more important to be offering help then to be asking for it.
You may not be able to finalize a meeting on the spot, but it’s critical that you follow up in a day (two at the most). In this follow up, suggest when you’re available, and ask them to pick the date and time that is most convenient for them. In the initial conversation, if you suggested meeting for coffee, ask them if there is a coffee shop near them that would be convenient. Again, you’re asking for the conversation, so you want to be the one offering to go out of your way for them.
Once you’ve established the date and time, follow up the day before with a reminder such as “I’m looking forward to meeting with you tomorrow at 9:00 at Giuseppe’s House of Expresso.” Keep it simple and quick. This is another way of demonstrating that you are respectful of their time.
Introductions are not just for yourself. The value of introducing people to others can’t be overstated. Always be on the lookout for an opportunity to connect people. You’ll be remembered for your generosity, and they will want to reciprocate.
Marya Mannes, 20th-century American writer and critic said, “Generosity with strings is not generosity; It is a deal.” So, I guess the question is, do you want to be known for your generosity or your deal-making?