What’s My Line is not a good Networking Strategy

Networking is partially about creating Word of Mouth traffic about your business, product, or service.  Yet, so many people are vague or unfocused in their personal marketing messages (AKA Elevator Speech) that I sometimes feel like I’m a panelist on “What’s My Line.”

I know that I’m showing my age here when I say that I used to watch this show on Sunday’s with my family when I was a child.  This was an early TV game show that was actually one of the longest running game shows on TV.  There were 4 panelists and during each show they would try to guess what the occupation of the guest was by asking lots of questions.  The point was to try to stump the panelists and if you did, you would win $50.00.  It was never about the money (even though $50.00 was a fair amount of money back in the 1950’s) it was about the witty banter of the panelists as they tried to figure out what the guest did.  They even had mystery guests (usually movie stars or sports personalities) where the panelists were blindfolded and tried to guess who the mystery guest was based on occupational clues and the typical questions and answers.  Steve Allen, one of the early panelists, is partly famous for coming up with the question, “So, is it bigger than a bread box?” as one of the ways to clarify the scope of the product or service that a guest provided.

So, take it from me, if someone ends up asking you, “is it bigger than a bread box?” you are not being clear enough about what it is that you do!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are sharing information about your business with others:

  • Keep it simple – please leave the jargon and technical talk out of it.  Paint a picture of what you do that is easy to understand and easy to repeat to others.  That way, I’ll be sure to know that I can help spread the word about what you do.  If I’m not sure … or I can’t explain what you do, I can promise you that I won’t be creating Word of Mouth happy soundbites for you.
  • Take a virtual energy bar before you go to any event.  Or do something to lift your energy!  If you are bored about what you are talking about, guess what?  So am I.  On the flip side of that, if you are typically bouncing off the walls, you might want to bring it down a notch so the rest of us can actually hear your message and not be distracted by the thumping of your puppy tail!
  • When someone asks you a question about your business, it means that they are interested.  Don’t answer in limited one word ways that stifle the conversation.  A sentence or two is a beautiful thing.  An epic is overwhelming and often uninformative due to the rambling that can and often does set in especially when you talk too long.  Just re-read that sentence if you don’t know what I mean.
  • Don’t be coy and make us work too hard to figure out what it is that you do.  Be direct and make it easy for us to either decide to do business with you ourselves … or to refer others to you who we think would be a good match.
  • Make some time to practice what you are going to say about your business.  Really think it through and know what your important sound bites are to get a conversation going.  Then get out there and share your message with the world!

On the show, What’s My Line, the whole point was to try to stump the panel.  The guest always won the prize if he or she could manage to make it through the allotted time without disclosing the nature of their business.

Please make your networking strategy one of full disclosure.  The prize will be more business and more clients for you.  And isn’t that what just about everybody wants?

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