If you're a member of a networking organization, chances are that there is a wonderful opportunity for you to significantly raise your visibility in the group, and to become known, liked and trusted.
And chances are that you haven't yet taken advantage of this opportunity.
That opportunity is the "Hi, My Name Is..." speech - the five or 10 minutes that each of us are granted upon enrollment in most organizations we join to address the group, introduce ourselves and explain our business in detail.
Although most groups offer these opportunities to their members, too many of us don't take advantage of them, or if we do, we don't always exploit the "Hi, My Name Is..." to its full potential, and that opportunity is wasted, for both us as speakers as well as our listening audience.
But it doesn't have to be wasted time--as a matter of fact, a "Hi, My Name Is..." speech can be a terrific business builder for you if you play your cards right.
First, you need to understand that a "Hi, My Name Is..." speech is NOT a chance to tell your life story or even how you got into your business, however fascinating that may be.
Your time in the "Hi, My Name Is..." Moment is your best chance to explain how you help your clients, and to provide a demonstration of your expertise to your audience. It's your chance to achieve (in under 10 minutes) what matters most in business: To become known, liked, and trusted (because we all know that people buy from people they know, like and trust).
But how can you do all that in 10 minutes or less? Here are two words to keep in mind regarding your "Hi, My Name Is..." speech: Value and preparation.
Value is the single most important aspect of your speech, and you can easily offer information of real value in just a few minutes. Share tips, advice, explain a procedure, anything! And don't just TALK about your services and what you offer, SHOW your expertise. (You get bonus points for involving your audience!)
Once you've established the value of the services you're offering, preparation is key to a successful speech. Here are several things you can do to make the most of your time (before, during and after) in the "Hi, My Name Is..." while you have your audience's undivided attention:
- Provide an interesting paragraph or two for the press release, newsletter, or other marketing that the organization does for the meeting.
- Bring your own introduction. If you have one prepared, you can be sure that it sets the right tone for your presentation, and it keeps your introducer from having to make something up about you at the last minute. A good introduction will help establish your credibility before you speak, and actually extend your time in front of the audience, since your introduction is all about YOU.
- Look the part. When I did my "Hi, My Name Is..." speech recently, I wanted to make a visual impact and say more about myself than my business suit alone could say, so I wore a big button that simply said "Attract More Clients! Ask Me How." (See how that "Sound Bite" keeps coming into the picture?) Between the content I presented and my handy visual aids, my audience understood immediately what I am about, and what I have to offer.
- Take advantage of the speaker table or other special opportunities offered to "Hi, My Name Is..." speakers. If there's room (and there usually is for "Hi, My Name Is..." speakers), arrange your table as you would for a trade show, decorating it with information of your real estate services, giveaways, your business cards, and so on.
- Have a sign-up sheet on your table. Remember that this "Hi, My Name Is..." speech is a prospecting activity, so give people a place to sign up for more resources or your newsletter. Here's another tip: Add a "call me" section so that hot prospects can indicate their interest.
- Include a photo on your one-sheet. A one-sheet is a marketing page that tells who you are, lists a few credentials and/or your services, and quotes happy customers, and so on. But more than that, it is a relationship piece that helps your prospects get to know you. It doesn't have to be fancy; you can print it out in color on a piece of letterhead, back it with cardboard, and set it up with a small tabletop easel for display.
- Save time in your speech for questions. Organize your speech to share information first, but remember to leave one or two minutes at the end for some quick questions from your audience.
- Invite your audience to sample your services, and/or visit your display table. After the questions, thank your audience, and then mention any special offers or incentives that you have for signing up on your mailing list or setting up a consultation.
- After your "Hi, My Name Is..." speech, you've still got work to do. You'll need to follow up with the people who signed up on your list or requested consultations. Give them a call to set up meetings, and send them whatever materials you promised.
- Don't forget to thank the person who introduced you, as well as the person who booked your speech.
Because the purpose of networking groups is to establish and develop business networks, one would think that "Hi, My Name Is..." speeches would be highly sought-after opportunities, but it has been my experience that people are often afraid to take center stage.
This fear must be caused by the fear of the "Hi, My Name Is..." itself; it can be intimidating to stand up in front of a group and talk about yourself. It may help reduce that fear to keep in mind that you're not up there talking about yourself; you're sharing information of interest and value with your peers.
So please, don't let fear keep you from taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity to speak. Speaking is a great way to build your own confidence, as well as credibility in the eyes of others in your organization.
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