Who said networking doesn't work?

13 Apr 2017

Who was it said, “Networking doesn’t work"?

“Networking doesn’t work!" Networking hasn’t worked for me, except for letting me speak for 60 seconds, 10-minute facilitation slots, 45-minute platform presentations at trade shows... and allow me to fill 6 of the ten seats available at my recent full day ‘Turn Up – Stand Up – Speak Up' speaking workshop.

In this article I am focusing on my speciality, which is getting people to realise that they don’t spend enough time preparing and practising their presentations; they don’t stand in a position that commands the stage for 60 seconds or speak clearly enough to make an impact. Remember, if there are 20/30/50 people at the meeting you need to make sure that your presentation is memorable.

Most people know that networking goes hand in hand with the opportunity to present yourself to a room of fellow business owners and networkers. And for me that is the vital aspect of these meetings, presenting YOURSELF. How often have we seen a speaker walk to a spot in the room, turn and face the audience and then put their hands:

  • in their pockets
  • behind their back
  • clasped together in front of their belly/their chest/rubbed together.

Hands are powerful weapons. Use them correctly!

How often has the speaker read their presentation from a piece of paper or mobile phone? From this we know that they have prepared their speech, but what they haven’t done is practise it. Or, they may have practised it, but anxiety has frozen them psychologically, making them unable to remember more than a few lines at a time.

How often have we seen the speaker turn and face one part of the audience and begin speaking:

  • Focusing their attention on one or two tables and ignoring people behind them.
  • Not scanning the room every now and again to connect with as many people as possible.
  • Speaking only to the people close by, so that those at the far side of the room cannot hear them.

How often have we seen the speaker turn and face the audience, begin speaking and:

  • Begin dancing from one foot to the other.
  • Not move at all, becoming rooted and wooden.
  • Cross their legs and appear unbalanced.

How often have we seen the speaker turn and face the audience, begin speaking and:

  • Begin each sentence with errr – umm – ahh verbal crutches which can destroy any credibility regarding authority.
  • Speak so quickly that one sentence runs into another until the speaker runs out of breath.
  • Speak so slowly and quietly that the audience switches off.
  • Not understand the power of pauses.

Business owners, networkers and the public in general, have rarely had the relevant training to speak in front of an audience. But in the world of 140 characters, Facebook and Snapchat the next generation will probably have even more difficulty talking, marketing and communicating than we often do today.

  • Do the words ‘Booming heart rate – Anxiety – Dread’ describe your emotions as your turn to speak approaches?
  • Are you losing business and income through garbled presentations?
  • Are you missing out on rewards and recognition because you stand at the back of the room when plaudits are being handed out?

Then maybe it's time to think about attending a workshop that can provide you with the tools and techniques to help you maximise the impact of your presentations...