How Not to Make a Business Networking Presentation

By Larry Teren

Recently, I sat in on a session where an expert gave out pointers on how to make a quick, but effective introduction of oneself at a business networking confab. She then asked for several volunteers to go up to the front and make a presentation and then be willing to accept criticism.

 

The ham that I am, I decided to try my act in front of an audience where no one knew me or my reputation for throw-away lines. As I stood up there, I focused on a few faces going back and forth as if I was speaking only to each one at that point in time. I lead with:

I’ve been a computer consultant for longer than I’d like to admit. What makes me different is what a client said to me years ago. (I won’t tell you how many.) He said, “you’re the first computer guy I ever saw who could bifurcate.”

I asked him what it meant. He replied that the best way to explain it is that you can type away at the keyboard while looking at me and telling a joke. He then explained that it was the ability to concentrate on two things at the same time. I don’t know how accurate that definition is but I know it does have something to do with splitting activity.

 

I then went on to explain to the group that the point was I treated my clients like family and they did likewise. They put trust and faith in me that I could solve their data processing support at a reasonable cost and know that they were getting someone who treated their system as if it was his own.

 

When I was finished, the lecturer pointed out that I did quite well and knew exactly how to finish the presentation without overstaying my stage visit. One person, however, said that I failed to tell the audience what type of support I actually gave. I retorted that I was trying in a short amount of available time to capture an emotional image.  Anyway, the session continued with other audience members putting themselves on the line as well.

 

One lady started out by saying she wanted to get into our drawers. She then hesitated and continued with, “… and shelves, and cupboards and chests and closets. You see, I am in the business of helping people get rid of their household clutter.” Some in the audience gave her some nasty criticism. I thought, though, that she had a clever introduction that clearly established that the person she was talking to would listen.

 

Towards the end of the session, another lady who was sitting a few chairs away motioned that she wanted my business card which I gave her. She then started to ask me questions and explained that she was just starting a business. We were told to stop making noise as it interfered with the presentation. I hand signaled back to her that we would continue the conversation after the session was over.

 

Once the session ended, she started to motion to me and I told her to wait a moment as I wanted to say something to the lady who fixed cluttered houses and provide a potential lead to another lady presenter of a person that I thought would be interested in her line of work. She nodded and indicated she wanted to talk to the lecturer for a moment as well.

 

I probably spoke for no more than two minutes to the other two ladies. I then turned to the front of the room to look for the lady to whom I had given my card and she was not there nor was she anywhere else in the room. I guess that’s what you get for bifurcating.

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