Schmooze or snooze

Ever go to a reception or event and immediately notice how
there always seems to be one or two individuals who are always surrounded by
people? How about an individual at a trade show booth where there always seems
to be a gathering around him or her?

Effective selling starts with personal marketing… creating
your own image… standing out from the rest of the “crowd” so to speak. For
men, it’s a little more difficult to dress for success than for women. Not to
be particularly biased here, but women can wear all kinds of colours and
outfits that immediately attract attention.

Men, in spite of all our attempts, business protocol still
dictates that we wear the conservative dark suit. Sports jackets are relatively
conservative (unless you’re willing to push the envelope like the television
character Herb Tarlick).

Let’s be realistic guys. How could we compete with a lady in
a red-hot blazer when trying to network or work a trade show booth? We are relegated
to possibly a two-tone shirt or a somewhat outlandish tie at the best of times.

When “business casual’ was introduced, like anything else,
people pushed it too far, and now many companies supporting the “relaxed” look
are providing golf and dress shirts with company logos. While many employees
may scoff at wearing some outfits, it does create a professional company image,
and when designed and presented properly, will create demand from prospects and
customers asking for “one of those red golf shirts.”

Placed and worn strategically, they become a walking,
talking billboard for you, possibly even a referral. I can’t begin to count the
number of times I’ve been approached by a complete stranger who has started a
conversation with “So what does company X (the logo on the shirt) do?” I wear
them to trade shows, on golf courses, networking, everywhere.

Most people still seem to stumble in marketing themselves
when planning for the event. What? You should have a plan simply to go to a
networking breakfast or reception? Why not? Shouldn’t you go there with an
objective – maybe, to get some leads or close some sales? So, if you have an
objective, why not a plan on how to reach it?

Recruiters will tell you that ideal resumes should be no
longer than 2 pages, or about 800 words. But when the interviewer asks you to
encapsulate your career, you have to condense that into 2 minutes. Similarly,
when introducing yourself, the 60-second “commercial” is the way to go.

Who are you and what can you do for me? Simple? Well I guess
it must be rocket science, because only one person in about 50 can actually do

We have become so diverse in our capabilities and what we
have to offer, that it’s really possible to explain everything you do on a 3.5”
x 2” business card? However, it can be a door opener. What you do after that
door opens, well that’s where the schmoozing starts.

Remember my previous article where I recalled a former sales
manager’s credo “listen with your ears, not with your mouth.” Think about the
number of times someone has given you his or her business card and before you
have even finished reading it over, they break into a rhetoric of being the
biggest and fastest – and they go on and on without even knowing more
than your name and the company you work for.

Take a lesson from someone that’s produced an estimated
5,000 VDP Direct Marketing programs. The premise of Direct Marketing – a.k.a.
One to One – is the right offer to the right person at the right time.

Here’s your opportunity to shine. Develop a relationship
right there, on the spot. Get him or her to tell you about what they do, their
company and their challenges. When they finish, you explain 2 or 3 ways how you
can help. Keep it short, 30 to 60 seconds, and before you finish they’ll ask
you for your card!

There are possibly hundreds of solutions to our customers’
problems, but how we put our own personal touch on it, is what builds and
strengthens the relationships with them. How often do people around you come to
you with problems? Now think carefully, how many come to you with solutions?
Which people are you going to remember?

One last thought: Don’t forget your business cards, or
whatever you hand out with your name and company on it. Yes, business cards are
the standard, but what’s wrong with a stylish pen with your contact information
engraved on it? Fridge magnets, note pads, golf balls – there are more
than 750,000 promotional products than can be personalized. Just remember to
have an extra one tucked away for that hot prospect at the very end of the

Greg Fitz is Vice President – Interactive Community
Development for AARM and a 23 year veteran of variable data printing. He can be
reached at