Stay Memorable When You Network: 15 Sensational Ideas

We know that preparing for a networking event is important.  Cincinnati’s full of regular groups that encourage the same routine:  write an elevator speech, make it no longer than 30 seconds and practice, practice, practice.

But let’s be honest:  there’s nothing encourages your ears to tune out and a yawn to creep up more than the same repeated elevator speech week after week.

Not that practice isn’t important, because it is.  But Networking 101 classes ended with the tech bubble burst of 1999 and sometimes we need to jazz it up a little.    

A small business owner has to reach further, work harder and dream bigger than the average person, which requires some seriously creative skills.  And not all of us are born with brilliant creativity, are we?

So here’s some fun ideas (some realistic and others not-so realistic) that’ll inspire and motivate you (hopefully) to change it up every once in a while.

And this list isn’t only for networkers.  Calling all who believe in the power of relationships and the importance of making a lasting impression!

Ready?Cincinnati networking event

1.    Praise someone privately.

Write it out ahead of time and leave some space to write a name.  During the event, identify the person that made the biggest impression on you (or the person whom you most want to connect with).  Write their name on the card.  When everyone is finished with their elevator speech, walk over to that person and say “hey, I thought your elevator speech was really memorable.  Thanks for inspiring me.”  They’ll love you for it.

2.    Quote something outrageous. 

People love to laugh and it lightens the mood.  This one works well for those of us that aren’t particularly good at telling jokes.  Better yet?  Tell a networking joke, if those exist.  If not, make one up.

3.    Bring a prop.

Tie it in with your elevator speech.  Remote control cars, Slinkies, Play-Dough, a deck of cards or squishy Nerf balls are always fun.  Even if you just toss it back and forth in your hands when you speak, it’ll ease your nerves and you’ll stand out.

4.    Wear a funky hat. 

Ladies, are you wondering what to do with the Kentucky derby extravaganza that’s been buried in your closet?  Guys, what about that Euro-style straw piece that makes you look like MJ?

During your time to speak, you can say “in case anyone’s wondering why I’m wearing this hat, I’m just reminiscing about the old days back when ………”  Instant conversation starter.

5.    Bring cupcakes. 

Ok, this one can cost a little.  However, if you head over the bakery area at your local grocery store, sometimes you can find yesterday’s goodies at half the price.  Take off the price sticker before you get there.

6.    Mention a favorite cuisine.

At the end of your elevator speech, mention how much you love Chinese or Italian and ask others to give their suggestions on where to find a great local place.  It’s an opportunity to invite someone for a one-on-one that’s a little different and you’ll both be meeting on common ground.

7.    Comment about a recent commercial.

Mention a television commercial you’ve seen advertising a product or service similar to your own.  Compare, contrast and highlight what makes your business different from theirs.

networking event Cincinnati8.    Invite all to celebrate.

If you always frequent your local watering hole for happy hour on Friday, extend the invitation.  Say that this place has great margaritas, good beer prices or awesome nachos.  Mention a time and say you’ll be there if anyone would like to join you.

9.    Bring mini-bottles of liquor OR fruit juice.

Stop at the store and pick up a few.  Hand them out and say  “I just felt like giving back today.”


10. Confess your stereotype.

Cincinnati’s known for the infamous “what high school did you go to?” stereotypes.  So fess up and tell everyone what you could be pinned as.  Blonde?  Used car salesman?

11. Sport your high school’s logo or colors.

Save everyone the daunting task of asking you where you went to high school by sporting your colors or even mascot.  Further the mention by stating how much you loved or didn’t love that area.      

12. Continuously shake.

When someone reaches out to you to shake your hand, generously just keep shaking.  You’ll either be shaking hands for the whole event or awkwardly walked away from.  If someone asks why you are doing that, tell them “I’m committed to building new relationships, awkward or not.”  Remember to smile.

13. Make a coffee toast.

Raise your paper cup and toast to the others in the room.  Remark about why you decided to come to the event and what you plan to contribute.  Thank everyone for attending and blessing you with their presence.

What other cool ideas have you used to stand out in the networking crowd?

How did those little seeds produce fruit for your business?