Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

I can't count the number of times I've attended a networking event only to meet someone that doesn't differentiate themselves from other folks in their industry. For example, when coming across a technical programmer at a software company, they leave out a crucial part by explaining what the company actually does or the specialization. When folks fail to mention this information, it leads me to believe that there is a lack of passion for what they do or for whom they work.

In order to eliminate such encounters, I do what I can to help prepare my employees at Red Door Interactive. Some of the best and most effective marketing comes directly from a firm's representatives, and it's crucial for everyone to always be prepared and excited when asked about their company. Think about it. Each person comes in contact with numerous people a day. Giving a well-delivered pitch is essential and has the potential to bode well for a business. Here are three tips for folks to consider before they attend their next event:

Bring the "A" game. Just like the preparation that takes place prior to giving a presentation, be ready to converse at events. If one isn't set to make a dash right out the gate and talk about what they do, who they work for and name off clients, they're in for a painful time, let alone missed opportunities. In addition, folks need to make sure they're physically ready. Sometimes if an individual is in a funk, their nonverbal signals will suggest that they're not interested in the moment or being sociable. Be geared up to give off a friendly, welcoming impression. If not, you will come across looking like a poor sport and it will reflect badly on the company.

Incorporate company news and achievements. While an event attendee might inquire about services that your company offers, informing them of recent stats and awards is another tactic to earn their respect and acknowledgment. For example, Red Door recently tripled repeat business for Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes through a customizable Web site and social media project. That achievement speaks volumes of our team's abilities. Organizations that can tell similar successes on behalf of their customers should incorporate such stories in conversations when they talk to others. One word of advice—be sure that the information is relevant to the person's background.

Let others talk. Asking questions is a great way to uncover needs that another business might have. Perhaps they're struggling with certain aspects of their operations, marketing or sales initiatives. By simply asking about and understanding their issues, your company may be able to assist them in accomplishing their goals. For example, many organizations are seeking to enhance their social media presence. Asking an individual what they're already doing will identify what they're not doing, and can be extremely beneficial in devising a plan. Get as much information as possible in order to uncover any areas your company might be able to assist with.

Make it personal.
The fact is, networking isn't strictly business. We have to enjoy it and be excited to meet interesting new people. Finding out about people on a personal level will enhance any future interactions, relationships and make the whole process much more fun. You will likely connect with people based on a similar interest such as kids, a sport, a hobby or a hometown. People light up when talking about their personal passions.

One thing's for certain; it's not about memorizing the company's "about us" paragraph, but having employees believe what they say. Folks can sniff out a phony elevator pitch from someone that's simply reiterating a short script. So I encourage companies to engage in frequent conversation with their staff and keep them updated on news and accomplishments. This will not only provide them with a sense of pride and lead to increased enjoyment, but employees will come across more passionate about their jobs and the company they work for when attending networking events. If folks follow this advice, their 30-second speech will be perceived as sincere and passionate rather than just words.

About the author:
Reid Carr is president of Red Door Interactive, an Internet Presence Management firm with offices in San Diego and Denver that helps organizations profit from their Web initiatives. Clients include Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp, Petco, Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill and Cricket Communications. Connect with him at