The Green Sheet Online Edition
January 09, 2017 • Issue 17:01:01
Making the most of networking opportunities
For many ISOs and merchant level salespeople, January is a good time to take stock and then set goals and action steps for the coming year. Often, deciding which industry tradeshows to attend is part of that process. There are the regional acquirer meetings, the Electronic Transactions Association's Transact show, the newer and growing Money20/20, as well as shows focused on specific aspects and interest groups within payments and banking, shows focused on promising verticals, gatherings that explore fintech partnerships, and more.
After weighing the options, payment professionals make decisions and book airlines and hotels for the shows that best fit their business objectives and budgets. But that's just the beginning of the preparation needed to make tradeshow attendance pay off.
In addition to rich educational offerings, these events provide extensive opportunities to network with potential partners and clients. In Good Selling!SM: The Basics, Paul H. Green posed the question, "If you're attending a conference or seminar, or simply having lunch with some colleagues, how do you identify the people who can help you and are willing to do so?"
The answer, Green stated, is to do some detective work. "Treat the event as you would treat a prospecting opportunity for sales," he wrote. "Find out all you can about the people who will be there. Ask around among your associates, go online and do a simple search under proper names or companies, or read local papers (online or print) and see if any of the attendees have been in the news lately and why." LinkedIn and Facebook are also potential sources of useful background information on attendees.
Next, brush up your elevator pitch, so you'll be prepared when people ask you what you do. In "Revisit that elevator speech," The Green Sheet, Feb. 9, 2009, issue 09:02:01, payment veteran Biff Matthews wrote, "For those who need a quick refresher, the elevator speech, or pitch, is a 30-second personal commercial developed to help you promote yourself, your company and your solutions." He offered the following four guidelines for preparing this vital piece of communication.
- You have 30 seconds, or less, to make your case.
- Your speech should be crisp and concisely focused on how you help customers and what you help them achieve.
- Use only layman's language. Avoid industry-specific terms and alphabet soup. Forcing your listener to guess what you're saying because you've used jargon and acronyms is counterproductive. Craft your speech so that, whether your listener is a professor or a janitor, your meaning is clear.
- Answer the question, but leave your listener wanting to know more.
Lend a hand
Of course, while networking, it is vital that you listen intently first before you talk about yourself. "Even if you think you may be at a dead-end and neither of you can help each other, give it some time. You may learn that this person really can help you reach your goals," Green wrote. However, he cautioned that "networking isn't just about what the contact can do for you; you can be a very valuable and interesting contact for him or her."
So prepare well, and then focus on extending a helping hand while networking this year. This approach will not only lead to many enjoyable conversations and new connections, it will also pay surprising dividends to you over time.
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