LIVE IT 2020: How to Network for Success
I wrote this post from a window seat somewhere above Texas, about 50 miles outside of Houston, my thoughts punctuated by the steady buzz of the plane and a baby’s high-pitched wails …
Framed by a small oval window, the sky is a mix of pale gray and striated clouds, the ground a patchwork of farmland slashed by thin roadway. I can’t see any cars moving but I know there’s life down below. The woman next to me adjusts her face mask (thanks, Coronavirus) and I’m sipping on a Bloody Mary mix that’s exceptionally tasteless.
Time to Nashville: Three hours, twelve minutes.
2020 marks my seventh consecutive year attending the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention. Last year, in Las Vegas, I attended as a burgeoning business owner and now in Music City, I return with an actual, thriving business I’m proud to say keeps expanding all the time. (Who knew?!!)
But this isn’t about me. This is about you. Well, let me slide down that plastic shade on my window (it’s distracting) and finish the story, then you’ll see how it’ll come back around to you.
So, Vegas … I remember being at this sleek, hotel bar, the kind where dim lighting makes it hard to read the $25 martinis on the menu and the waitresses rarely smile, as I chatted with a brokerage owner who would soon become a client.
“Yeah, Sue attended convention last year, and she killed it,” he told me. “For her that was really the start of everything.”
The start of everything. I let those three words dissipate into the windowless air, mixing with the piano player’s slow jazz. A slot machine chimed, and it was like the bells of business future were calling out to me. Only three months into the wild world of entrepreneurship, I wanted to find my everything, too. And I did. Sales Convention 2019 proved a turning point in the history of little word studio, the exact moment when things shifted from little to big. (A related fun fact: Sales Convention itself is a client of little word studio – you’re looking at the copywriter behind all those promotional eCards, social posts and newsletter stories.)
Now here’s where we get back to you, listening to the twang of a guitar in a dimly lit bar on Broadway, a neon sign casting cheerful shadows on the two-man band: Sales Convention is more than just an event; it’s an opportunity for you to crush it, or to use this year’s theme – to LIVE IT.
How? Ah, glad you asked. I’m going to break down a bit of the self-written rulebook I followed last year, hoping my advice will be just as professional potent for you:
Figure out your thirty-second elevator pitch and make it specific to someone’s needs.
To get to the heart of what most call your “elevator pitch,” write down the answer to this question: What makes you uniquely positioned to help someone improve or to help someone avoid danger? Sales professionals widely agree there are two motivations propelling people to do business with you:
- You provide a service or product that will make their lives and businesses better than they would be without it. Deploying the very special thing you do or sell, someone will be financially or emotionally richer or somehow more well-positioned for success than they were before.
- You provide a service, product or thing that will help them avoid a bad situation. Your product or service means they will no longer be threatened by a dangerous scenario that should be avoided at all costs.
For example, one of my clients built a game-changing, closed network for the transfer of digital earnest money called Earnnest. In short, the platform satisfies both drivers of business – it eliminates the pain of having to deliver or pick up a physical check while enriching agents’ lives by saving them time and effort in the earnest money transaction process. It’s an incredibly easy sell.
In thirty seconds, articulate how you can advance someone’s current situation or guide them out of harm’s way; a personal elevator pitch that addresses one or both of these motivational drivers will translate into a lasting impression that will convert into new business.
Once you deliver your elevator pitch, move on.
Harsh as it sounds, nobody really wants to hear about the dazzling feats you performed to negotiate an offer or how hard you work or how many hours you spend at open houses on Sundays. At least not yet. In those precarious few minutes of a new conversation with a brand-new connection, you have to focus on them. Ask questions about their story and listen – but don’t just listen to reply, listen to understand. Empathy makes the world go ‘round. The more you can convey an authentic sense of compassion, the more likely your conversational counterpart is to keep the discussion going … and remember you far after your talk is through.
Spend your early mornings on social media.
One of the more stressful aspects of an event is this constant need to share what’s happening like a roving reporter documenting every second of every day for your followers and friends. By hour three of convention, the gnawing tug of social media can start to feel like real anxiety and that state of existence is directly incompatible with networking success. Instead of constantly posting and losing your in-the-moment vibe, I recommend snapping photos and videos as the mood strikes but save them for late. Then, wake up 30 minutes earlier the next day and make that your dedicated social media time. As you sip your coffee in quiet relaxation, post all the photos and videos you took. A few tips for optimal social engagement:
- Use the event hashtag (#LIVEIT2020) on all posts
- Tag the event page for a chance at a re-post (@bhhsevents)
- Shameless plug but come to my session on social media marketing Tuesday 3-4:30 PM in 202 ABC to learn a whole lot more about ways you can amplify your business through digital
- Get specific with your geo-tags, so you’re locally discoverable
- Tell a story with your captions and take time to compose them well
- If you’re posting a long caption on Instagram, copy and paste it first into THIS website so your line breaks are clean
- Spend $25-$50 to boost your post on Facebook and Instagram to a one-mile radius around the Music City Convention Center (in your ad parameters, type in the convention center address and adjust the mile radius to one)
- Once you’re done posting your content, search all content posted with the event hashtag on Twitter and Instagram and like or comment on as many photos and videos as you can (the same applies for all posts on the mobile app)
- Fill out your profile completely on the mobile app, including your headshot, bio and all your professional social media accounts then add attendees you meet (or want to meet) as connections
- Have fun and make your content fit your personal brand (free apps to use for eye-catching posts include Prequel, Unfold and ColorStory)
Anyway, those are just a few pointers to put you on the path for networking success. If you’re not in Nashville, follow along on social, @littlewordstudio. Or, if you are in Music City like me for the 2020 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Sales Convention, feel free to say hi. I’m happy to share even more tips as we LIVE IT together.