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Sunday, November 08, 2009

BREAKTHROUGH NETWORKING: Create an Effective Verbal Business Card

Breakthrough Networking with Lillian Bjorseth

People don’t buy a stove because it’s three-feet high and white. They buy it because it cooks their food. When you start your conversations with words that cook others’ food, you will convert them into clients much more easily. People buy benefits, not features.

The way you do this is with a benefit-laden Verbal Business Card (VBC), the front end of your elevator pitch that entices people to want to learn more about what you can do for them or their associates.

Last month I discussed many characteristics of an effective VBC and how to use it as the front end of your LinkedIn elevator pitch. Today, I am going to share what to include … and not … in your generic VBC. This is the one you use when you meet people who are not employed by the same company or in the same industry.

To be Included

    • Your first, last name. Everyone suffers from memory lapses; so even if you are wearing a name tag, repeat your name every time you start a new conversation. It also helps people know how you preferred to be called, i.e., Bill vs. William and how to pronounce a more difficult name like mine: B-or-seth. (The “j” in Bjorseth is silent, and some people wouldn’t know this without first hearing it.)
    • What you do. This is key. People always ask, “What do you do?” yet so many people answer by sharing “who” they are or “how” they do it.
    • Benefits to others. How does what you do benefit the people you are meeting or people they know?
    • Active verbs. Include the most powerful words in the English language in your introductory words. You can feel the strength in words like “help,” “work with,” “share” vs. linking verbs such as “is”, “am” “was.”

Probably not Included

    • Company name. Don’t take up precious seconds with a name that is not immediately recognizable. I could use “AT&T” when I worked there. I never use my company, “Duoforce Enterprises.” It is not a household word and, therefore, doesn’t add immediate value. People might pause and think, “What is a Duoforce?” Instead, I want them to concentrate on me because I have spent time and money branding Lillian Bjorseth. Duoforce is the necessary corporate structure. Your company name could be important at an industry networking event.
    • Company location. Generally, this is not necessary in your first few words in a generic VBC. This could be important if you work for a multi-location company and are attending a company function. You have plenty of time to talk geographical locations latter in the conversation.
    • Adjectives and adverbs. Use only with careful scrutiny. They are modifiers, and the extent to which they do this is usually at your discretion. They reflect opinions and often are exaggerated and superfluous. Refrain from telling people you, your products, services or talents are the best, quickest, greatest or most reliable within the opening seconds of meeting them.

Not Included

    • Company title. Including your title in your first words is not necessary or wise. If you are a vice president, manager, director – this is not necessary introductory information. After all, how many bank vice presidents have you met … and have no idea what they do? If you are a president or CEO, it could well be your ego you are feeding vs. relating valuable data.
    • How you do it. How you do what you, especially differently that others in your field, comes later in your elevator pitch. Make sure you have honed those words well, too.
    • Business label. Avoid words like accountant, attorney, trainer, etc. These words are nebulous and add little value in those precious first moments. For instance, if I were to introduce myself as a trainer, it could be interpreted as an animal trainer, personal trainer, soft skills trainer, technology skills trainer, etc. I want people to focus on easily understandable and valuable information, rather than giving them a reason to ponder what kind of trainer I am.
    • Industry jargon. Avoid jargon at all costs in your generic VBC. Others won’t understand. Jargon is acceptable in your industry version and possibly in your intra-company version if you are talking with others who understand your responsibilities.

An example

    I’m Lillian Bjorseth, and I help you build a new kind of wealth – social capital – by improving your networking and communication skills.

    If you have taken to heart what I’ve said and want to create your Verbal Business Card, be kind

to yourself and patient with your efforts. A succinct, easily understandable VBC can take hours to create and often is done best under the tutorage of an objective outside source such as a networking skills coach.

For more information, please visit Lillian's TNNW Bio.

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