Steps to Networking – Step 43: Sound Bites

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 9th, 2010

STEP 43: Sound bites

A sound bite is your opening, your introduction, your verbal calling card. It’s a succinct, memorable, defining statement that explains who you are, what you do and how you can help. A sound bite is your keynote, so make it good!

In networking, sound bites are essential. We live in a world where few people have time for the full story. Even at networking events that people attend to make contacts, they’re always scanning the room, planning their next move and they seldom give you their full attention. When they need information, they want condensed versions, digests, capsules that that take only seconds to deliver, are easy to grasp, lock in their mind and are easy to recall.

It’s hard to get people to listen. They’re overwhelmed by endless demands. Everyone wants to take their time and energy. Most of the people you want to reach can’t spare a moment, they’re overbooked and overloaded. So, if you get their attention, you better grab it wherever you are!

When you get an opening, you must express yourself:

• Quickly
• Clearly
• Compellingly and
• Memorably

Create a sound bite, a descriptive message that you can deliver in less than 15 seconds when you meet new people. The purpose of a sound bite is to capture listeners’ attention and give them information that will whet their appetite for more. Some refer to sound bites as “elevator speeches:” snappy, descriptions that can be rattled off in the time it takes an elevator to rise from the lobby to the fifth floor.

The more you say briefly, the better the sound bite. As theater impresario David Belasco said, “If you can’t write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don’t have a clear idea.”

A sound bite is the opening that gets you to stage two. It’s the first impression you make, an attention-grabbing device that will get you and your message noticed, remembered and repeated.

Your sound bite must be a grabber, a memorable message that makes contacts stop and listen, want to learn more about you and introduce you to their friends and colleagues. If it’s short and gets their attention, it buys you more time to sell them. Your sound bite must be:

• INTERESTING enough to attract immediate ATTENTION,
• POWERFUL enough to be REMEMBERED and
• CONVINCING enough to STIR overloaded listeners into action.

In 10 to15 seconds, your sound bite must explain:

(1) Who you are
(2) What you do and
(3) Why you make a difference.

Examples

The following are examples of effective sound bites:
(1) I teach business owners and salespeople how to make more money with less effort. I’m a business coach (C.J. Hayden).
(2) I used to weigh over 300 pounds. Now, I’m a size 8. I can teach you how to lose weight and keep it off. (Diet book author).
(3) I help people stay in focus, I’m an optometrist.
(4) I show people how to get unlimited free publicity. (Publicist).
(5) I make investors rich from small investments. (Investment broker).
(6) I turn your experiences, adventures and ideas into best-selling books. I’m a ghost writer. (Free-lance writer).
(7) I make the most delicious, mouth-watering and beautiful desserts for parties and special occasions (Pastry chef).

If you want to be a successful networker, prepare to vigorously promote yourself. Be ready to blow your own horn in such a way that listeners will remember the tune, but not consider you a blow hard. In the face of intense competition, distinguish yourself from the crowd and the best way to start is with a sound bite.

NETWORKING NUGGET

Several years ago, networking coach Sarah Michel made her “Perfecting Connecting” presentation at the United States Olympic Committee’s Bi-annual Olympic Congress Conference at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. After she completed her session, Michel went the grand ballroom for the cocktail reception. She relaxed with a glass of red wine and talked to a woman in a beautiful cream-white suit, who attended her presentation. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Curt, a man who she had helped with his sound bite after her session, racing toward her. Suddenly, he picked her up and gave her a big bear hug, which cause her wine glass to tip and spill all over her companion’s beautiful cream-white suit.

Curt immediately apologized, “I’m so sorry, but you’re not going to believe what just happened. After I left your session, I went into the restroom and I mentally practiced my sound bite. As I was leaving, another man, who had also been in the rest room, asked me what I was doing at the conference. Remembering your instruction, I looked this guy straight in the eyes, stood tall and said, “I’m here to make some new connections and smoke out new opportunities where I can bring my 12 years of sales and marketing experience in the athletic sports and merchandising industry to a progressive company where I can really impact the bottom line.”

The man then turned to Curt and said, “I’m the VP of New Business Development for NIKE. Would you like to grab a beer and talk about possible opportunities for you with Nike!”

Curt, who was floating on air, hugged Michel again, thanked her repeatedly and then shoved his business card into the hand of the woman in the stained white suit. “Send me the bill,” he insisted. Then he smiled, hugged Michel again and went to meet the Nike VP!

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)

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