This is the 19th blog post in a series taken from my book ‘Joined Up Networking  for busy  professionals’. Each week, we will take a tip from the book and publish it in a blog post.

introduce yourself with impact - cartoon

I can guarantee that if you go out networking, you will be asked this question… ‘what do you do?’. Let’s call this your opening ‘sound bite’. Every networker should have this opening sound bite rehearsed and polished. Unfortunately, in my experience, so many people trot out a boring, unmemorable opening sound bite. Well, not maybe not always boring or unmemorable, but they miss an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the value of what they do and get the conversation onto business topics.

I’ll give you some examples, on the programmes I have run helping accountants, consultants and lawyers with their networking skills, I typically hear sound bites like this:

“For my sins, (or words to that effect) I’m an accountant/lawyer/consultant”
“We are a firm of solicitors who specialise in working with SMEs””

Inspiring? Not really. Invites you to ask another question? Not really. Impactful… definitely not.

The trick to making your sound bite an impactful conversation starter, is to think of it in three parts. For the first part of your sound bite, describe the main benefit you bring to your client.

For example, change “I’m an accountant” to “I help my clients legally minimise the amount of tax they pay”.

Many people initially struggle with the concept of an opening sound bite, as they are worried that people wouldn’t know what they do, and will want to find out their occupation. And you are absolutely right, people do want to find out, so 99% of the time, their next question will be along the lines of, “so, how do you do this?” You then answer, with the second part of your sound bite, “we typically work with [insert your target audience] to help them solve [insert problem you typically solve]”

If you get the first two parts of the sound bite right, then typically the next question you get asked is “tell me more…” For the last and third part of your sound bite, you need to tell them a recent success story with a client, e.g. “for example, recently we…”

Action points:

  1. Work out what value you bring to your clients, and write out the three parts of your opening sound bite.
  2. Practice your opening sound bite next time you are out networking. Notice people’s reactions to your sound bite and notice if there are any differences to the conversation that follows