Striking Up a Conversation

Every day you’re interacting with people. You’re deepening relationships with those you’ve known for awhile. And you’re discovering potential common interests with those you’ve just met. In other words, you’re networking.

Meet ups or conferences make networking a little easier. You’re starting with a common interest. And as an attendee, you’re able to tailor some of your introductions. Here are two tips for how to strike up a conversation.

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Attending Conferences 101: Perfecting the Elevator Pitch

Talking about ourselves is often the hardest task we tackle as creatives. We so want to make a good first impression that we stumble trying to remember words to an "elevator pitch." An elevator pitch is a thirty second or less, one to two sentence summary of who we are and what we do. It's a verbal summary of our story. And the secret to getting better at telling our own story? Stumbling through a few awkward exchanges in front of an encouraging, receptive, supportive community like Alt.

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3 Things You Can Do to Make Your Business Relationships Stronger

By: Erin Newkirk, of Red Stamp Photo by: Brooke Dennis

Relationships are the #1 competitive advantage in any business. Being an in the know and the go-to gal or guy sends countless opportunities your way. The great news is that making critical relationships stronger is hardly an arduous task. It’s all about modern etiquette + having the right tools in your tool belt.

Here are some strategies + tactics we’ve employed at Red Stamp over the years with much success.

1. Gratitude

There are many ways to say thank you. As the founder of a correspondence company, I always think a personal, well-thought-out + timely thank you after any business meeting is a best practice. But here are some other ways I like to express gratitude.

· Buying someone a cup of coffee {even virtually ala my Starbucks app!}

· Texting them a quick note after following up on one of their action steps or recommendations letting them know how it went {see Keep in touch below}

· Personal connection – handshakes, eye contact {in person} // commenting on a photo they post of their family {virtually} – that sort of thing

· Posting a recommendation on LinkedIn {or endorsing – takes 2 seconds}

· Sending a kind, praise-filled introduction to someone who might be of help to them

2. Give as much as you get

Who doesn’t have a friend who only reaches out when she needs something? I’ll tell you, when that number pops up on the phone, I sometimes have to force myself not to send to voicemail.

Contrast that with the people in your life who ping you just to say hi, see how you are doing, show you they are thinking about you, send along something they think you might be interested in, and just want to share the good in their life and say “thank you” for helping you make that happen. You’re always ready + willing for those calls/emails/texts, right?

Business is no different. Whenever I enter a conversation where I’m going to have an ask, I always make sure I have something juicy to give. And even when I don’t have an ask, I make sure to send opportunities at least once every 6 months. But be warned – help/well wishes/etc. must be authentic in order to be appreciated.

3. Keep in touch

I have the pleasure of advising some amazing entrepreneurs and to each of them, I give the same advice. Make sure you invest the time to keep in touch over time so that you stay on radar screens. It can be a 5 second investment thanks to social media, “like” buttons,  “congrats” buttons, digital cards. Or it can be a 5 minute / few dollar investment with an email, paper card, digital gift {remember that cup of coffee I was talking about?} Both are valid + best when mixed.

What are you doing to make your business relationships stronger? What are some challenges you face? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

This post was written and sponsored by Red Stamp. Learn how to build meaningful connections at Red Stamp's free Alt Channel class on 4/30, hurry and sign up here, spots are filling up fast.

Telling Your Story: Create And Practice Your Elevator Pitch

By: Sara Urquhart  Image by: Justin Hackworth

The idea of the “elevator pitch” is born from the scenario in which you find yourself standing next to a potential investor/partner/collaborator in an elevator. You have five floors to tell your story and spark some interest before the doors open and your contact walks out.

While you may not find yourself in this exact situation, crafting the story you’ll tell about yourself is an invaluable professional tool. You’ll be required to succinctly introduce yourself and your work over and over at Alt and anywhere else you’re connecting with new people, so take the time to do it well.

Your elevator pitch will include your name, your business, your passions and expertise, and recent projects. For those involved in multiple projects, you’ll need to edit carefully and choose which aspect of your working life to talk about with whom. If a great conversation develops, that may be a perfect time to share multiple projects and interests, but your elevator pitch will be most beneficial if it is focused on the aspect of your work that’s most relevant to the person you’re meeting or to the project to which you’re most committed.

Begin by brainstorming several phrases about your story—who you are, what you do, what you love. Write a paragraph or two in your natural voice (not too formal or stilted) and then trim it to the three or four most applicable and interesting sentences. Send it to a friend or two for feedback. Then memorize it and repeat it until it feels and sounds natural.

The upcoming holidays are a perfect time to give your elevator pitch a practice run with family or friends. Not only will you improve delivery and confidence, your loved ones will help you ferret out any weaknesses and give you suggestions for improvement. (If their eyes glaze over while you’re talking, be sure to ask for those suggestions.) Don’t underestimate the importance of practicing with real live people. A friend of mine recently crafted his elevator pitch, practiced it a hundred times in the car, and then bombed the first time he tried it in person.

Trust that your work and passions are interesting as your create and practice your elevator pitch, and then share it with confidence.