Millennials don’t have the best reputation in the workforce. The ones that start their own businesses tend to earn more respect than their colleagues that take regular jobs, because they don’t demonstrate the same self of entitlement. However, they are still going to be fighting an uphill battle when pitching new clients, especially at networking events with older attendees.
If you want to be taken seriously at a networking event as a young business owner, you are going to need to understand the rules of the game. Career Builder gave some general tips, but we didn’t find them that specific. Here are some more useful tips that you need to follow.
Have professional looking business cards
When I first started attending professional networking events back in 2010, I created my own business cards with a basic image editing software and had them printed out and delivered to my house by a subpar business card company. They did not look very good at all. I got a negative perception from them by potential customers.
I learned my lesson and used a more professional company to print my business cards. I got much better responses and people took me more seriously when I attended events.
This is something that every millennial needs to remember. Our generation has a reputation for skimping on important things and not caring about making a good impression, which means that we won’t be taking it seriously. You need to show that you don’t fit the stereotype by printing high-quality business cards.
Many networking events offer alcohol to attending participants. You need to be smart about how much alcohol you plan on drinking while attending these events.
Many people argue that it is not good to avoid drinking entirely at these events. They suggest that people that completely abstain from alcohol might appear to be unemployed to other participants.
On the other hand, you need to be careful about drinking excessively. If you’re stumbling, slurring your words or making insensitive statements, then you will tarnish your professional brand.
It might be a good idea to have a drink or two, but know your limits and avoid getting carried away. Liz Ryan suggests only drinking half as much as usual at a networking event.
Have an articulate elevator pitch in mind
Networking is a numbers game. Most people realize that they need to speak with at least ten people at an event before generating a single lead. Assuming that they have a 10% lead to sale conversion rate, this means that they need to talk to at least 100 people at these events to get a single sale.
So, people are not going to spend 15 minutes listening to you describe your new startup. You are going to need to describe your business as simply as possible.
Come up with a 30 second elevator pitch that is going to reel them in. If they like your elevator pitch, they will be willing to listen more intently and possibly schedule a meeting.
Take some time to practice your elevator pitch. Try to time it so that it does not go over 30 seconds.
Be sensitive to the feelings of people attending
You need to be tactful when participating in any networking event. Diversity is becoming a bigger deal than ever.
You need to be cautious about the types of jokes you make during these events. You should also refrain from having political conversations, unless it is absolutely necessary. Try to limit any political statements to specific policies that are especially relevant to your profession.
Don’t try to sound like a know it all
If there is only one thing you take away from this article, make sure that it is this. You don’t want to try to talk like you are the anointed expert on everything. Avoid giving other people advice about their own profession at all costs, unless you are a member of the same profession and have legitimate insights.
Millennials have a reputation for being overly confident and sometimes arrogant about their expertise. Many people are tired of hearing them talk like they are experts. Try to listen to people when they talk instead of what train them on how to run their own business.