Business networking events aren’t for everyone. For some people, such things are the awkwardness of an office soirée but without the benefit of free alcohol for that bit of Dutch courage, and swapping out the unwelcome overtures of that not-so-special someone who you avoid like the plague for the overt advances of a bunch of salespeople who talk at, over, and through you.
Worse, the dreaded speed networking event — eek!
Choice of venue aside, I’ve found the optimal angle of approach is to ask the other person what it is they do and then wrap their explanation in a contextual proposition of what it is Octane does.
It’s the difference between:
“We help small businesses deal with big business problems.”
“We’d create a secure web application to manage the life cycle of [Widget X, Gadget Y, Service Z, or Events 1, 2, and 3], and…”
“We’d look at trimming your workflow down from 7 stages to about 5, or — if possible — 3, and then digitising the whole thing, then…”
… in each instance, continuing with additional, contextual ideas specific to their business, accompanied with essential benefits, such as reducing costs, and improving efficiencies, among others.
While apocryphal, it’s worth mentioning something that Albert Einstein never said because it’s a useful shorthand:
“If you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it well enough.”
We often have an intuitive understanding of what we do, but then struggle to articulate that to someone else, so — as I said — context is everything, as is practice.
I often avoid explaining the specifics of what Octane does (because it’s technical and therefore either: 1. confusing; 2. boring; or 3. a combination of 1 and 2) and instead focus on the expected results, and the benefits we would bring to them.
In the end, simplifying the raison d’etre of a product or service isn’t so much a strand of self-promotion or some branch of your marketing strategies as it is the communication of an idea such that its purpose is self evident to someone, whether it’s applicable or relevant to them or not.
Because if someone else understands what you’re capable of accomplishing, then you have the makings of a message that is communicable to others by others, via word of mouth, and fingers to keyboard or touchpad, which could then — in modern parlance — go viral.