12 Aug 2017

Speaking at Networking Events

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Business Networking will bring prosperity and expansionIn the long term, one of the most effective ways to get qualified leads for your business is to join and be active in local networking groups. Every city has several choices which include BNI, RGAnetwork and others, and they will almost always allow you to attend one or two meetings as a guest to check them out.

Briefly, a typical networking group meets once a week for breakfast, lunch or even dinner at a local restaurant. Sometimes as few as 6 people or as many as three or four dozen sit in a private room and spend an hour eating, learning about each other and sharing knowledge and experiences. You have to pay for food at the restaurant, which is the price for using the room, and some groups charge a small amount of $10 or so per meeting, but other than that the only cost should be a yearly fee.

You should visit several of these groups until you find one that works for you.

Once you’ve joined, the challenge is getting a return on your investment. Now think about this carefully. How much are you spending to be a part of a networking group? Let’s say it’s $400 a year. Now add in $20 for lunch every week, and another $10 a week for the meeting fee (if there is one). If you add that all up, you will see that you’re spending close to $2,000 a year.

Now look at the time you will spend. If you meet hourly every week at one event, and you consider driving time, that’s probably 2 hours per week. Even if you spend no other time with the local group, you’re spending over 100 hours per year at this activity.

If you are going to spend over $2,000 and more than 100 hours a year doing anything, you want to make sure you get the best bang for your buck.

How do you do that?

One way to improve your odds at getting results from local networking groups is to speak. You see, most of the groups let you speak occasionally about your products, services and anything else you desire.

For example, at RGAnetwork, you can speak at any and all of their meetings once every three months or so. Since RGAnetwork has around 30 chapters, that means you could, in theory, speak over 120 times a year. Since you have 10 to 15 minutes to speak and answer questions, this means you can have attention on you, your products and services and your story by a group of interested referral partners every week.

How do you best use these speaking engagements?

Sign up – It might seem obvious, but by far most members don’t take advantage of these opportunities. You have to sign up!

Show up – No shows are a perennial problem, and if you sign up you should show up and give your speech unless an emergency comes up. And if you can’t make it, give the group leader as much notice as possible.

Sign up as a backup speaker – Let the group leader you are available if the speaker doesn’t make it. You’ll speak more often, and your group leaders will love you for it.

Advertise your speaking engagement – Drop a note on your Facebook wall, in the Facebook group for your network and on your Goggle+, LinkedIn and Twitter feeds. Let people know you are going to be talking. It only takes a few minutes, and you might get a larger audience.

Be prepared – You should be an expert on yourself, your products and your services. Before speaking, put together a few notes and run through it a couple of times. This won’t take that long for a 10 minute speak.,

Stay focused and on topic – Address one thing in your speech. Don’t wander all over the place. If you want to talk about two things or three things, don’t mix them up. Talk about one, then the other, then the last one.

Do not be negative – Never say anything negative about anyone, any business or anything else.

Leave your conspiracy theories at home – If you start talking about chemtrails, dental conspiracies, 9/11 cover-ups or anything else of a similar nature, you will lose your audience. People are there to learn about your business, not hear about some off-topic thing you may believe. The truth of these theories is irrelevant – no one is at these meetings to hear about them.

Don’t start out your speech in degrading your own product or service – I’ve heard “I know you all have negative feelings about MLM…” or “You might think vitamins are a hoax…”. Guess what? I, and the rest of the audience, stopped listening as soon as you said that. Just give us the facts.

Put in some humor – A great ways to start your speech is with a humorous story that has something to do with your business. This will break the ice and build engagement. However, do NOT use raunchy, political or sexual humor, and do not be insulting.

Record your speech if you can – Turn on your phone’s audio recorder, or, better yet, as someone to record video for you. This will allow you to do some self-critique later, which is a great way to improve, and you might get a soundbite or a video clip that can be used as promotion.

And last of all, DO NOT SELL – These speeches should inform others about you, your story, and a product or service you offer. Do not try to sell to the audience. Give them information. As soon as you turn on any sales, you audience will tune out.

As you can see, speaking regularly can help you expand the value you get from attending local networking groups. If you take advantage of this opportunity, be sure to spend a little more time for the maximum effect.

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