Why Typical Networking Doesn’t Work

Tory Johnson, founder of Women For Hire and Spark & Hustle

I wish I had a dollar every time someone told me that networking just doesn’t work. I hear it from jobseekers who show up at events and leave empty-handed. I hear it even more often from small business owners who aren’t generating bites, let alone sales, from their extensive networking efforts.

Last week I met a lovely woman who’s an accomplished golf instructor, but she doesn’t have nearly enough clients to sustain her. It’s a common challenge among many solopreneurs.

“I network every week, sometimes every day, but nothing works,” she told me. I probed to figure out what exactly that looks like-where is she going and what does she say? She explained that she attends speed networking events where she has 30 seconds to pitch about her services.

I asked her to give me the precise pitch she uses when addressing a luncheon with 50 women small business owners.

“Hi, my name is Jan Jones and I’m a golf instructor. I’ve been teaching golf lessons for more than 20 years and I was trained by the top pros on the best courses in the world. I offer hourly lessons, half-day programs, and a full 18-hole special package. I would love to help you develop an interest in this wonderful sport. Thanks very much for your time.”

Not too shabby, right?

Wait! Before you answer, consider this: I asked why she thought all 50 of those women were in the room? “To get business,” she said. RIGHT! They’re all looking to make money, which is the most important thing to know as you deliver your 30 seconds.

I told her to rethink every word. This is my suggested revision:

“Hi, I’m Jan Jones. Did you know that millions of dollars in business deals happen on the golf course? If you’re not on the green, you’re missing your share of that green. As a seasoned golf instructor, I get women quickly up to par to swing a club with confidence. That leads to successful connections for you. So let’s talk golf to grow your bottom line now.”

Both scripts are 67 words, but there’s a BIG difference, eh? One is all about YOU and your credentials and services; the other is all about THEM and their number one goal of generating new business. Which do you think gets better results?

Let me go a step further. That same golf instructor who is seeking businesswomen as clients could alter her pitch when talking to other potential target markets: single women looking to date and women who are focused on fitness.

Instead of talking about golf leading to business connections, she’d tweak her focus to the interests of her audience. To the singles, she’d tout how many guys on Match.com say the love golf. Or she could reveal an impressive statistic about the salaries or net worth of men who play golf being higher than those who don’t. (Don’t kill me: I proudly married for love, not money, but every girl has different motivations!)

When talking to a fitness group, her pitch would focus on how many calories are burned while hitting balls or playing a round of golf-and how much more fun it is to take up golf than to hit the gym for grueling workouts.

You get the idea. Talk is a cheap way to generate business RIGHT NOW, as long as your words are properly positioned for your target audience.

This is something everyone can implement immediately whether building a business or looking for a job.

And if you need help with YOUR pitch-or any aspect of your career or small business success-visit with me at the MeetUp during the Texas Conference for Women Career Fair.

 

Texas Conference for Women keynote Tory Johnson is a New York Times bestselling author, the workplace contributor on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and the founder of both Women For Hire and Spark & Hustle.