Bringing your business pitch to a networking event can be a daunting task. Not only do you have to make sure you are explaining your idea well, but as a female entrepreneur you may often find yourself in a room full of men and feel unsure how to “break into” a mostly male conversation circle. So how can you make the most of a networking situation? How do you ensure the person you’re talking to really listens and understands what you’re working on?
Knowing your pitch and setting goals for the interaction will make you more confident as you engage people. Some other tips for breaking into those all-male conversation circles (or any kind of circle for that matter) include: start the conversation at the bar or buffet table, engage with someone that is on the periphery or angled outward, or smile and dive right in! But most importantly, know what you want to contribute to the conversation and know your pitch like the back of your hand.
Entrepreneurs are full of ideas and exciting ways to make things happen. As a business owner, it is your job to help people focus on what you most want them to know. If overwhelmed with detail, it’s easy for someone to say “That sounds nice, good luck!” and walk away. And then you’ve missed an opportunity for support, resources or even a client. To help them understand your idea, you need to:
Focus on the problem you solve. Your idea must quickly resonate with your audience. Tell them what problem you’ve identified and how your idea solves it.
What makes your idea better. What makes your solution better than others? Be able to clearly differentiate your product or service and describe the value you provide. People understand benefits, especially if what you offer will benefit them.
Be big picture. The first time you meet someone shouldn’t be when you dump all the business details on the table. Stay at a high level and don’t dig deep into the minutiae, unless the conversation heads that way.
Prioritize what you need. If you’ve gone this far, have an “ask” ready. Let people know what you’d like to learn, resources you need, or types of people you’d like to connect with. It’s not the time to ask for money or a big introduction (that might come later), but it’s a great chance to gain information and get connected to what you need.
You might use a Business Model Canvas or just a bulleted list to help you focus on your most important customers or activities. Remember, people can only remember 2-3 things, so don’t pitch more than they can handle! Most importantly, let your competence and passion shine through. That way, people will walk away thinking: “She knows what she’s talking about, and I want to get on board!”