I’ve got a couple of speaking opportunities lined up for the coming week, so presenting to a group as a part of a networking practice is much on my mind. We’ve spoken earlier about how you can use speaking as an opportunity to get your audience to know you. Let’s delve a little more into the details of the opportunities offered by the presentation practice.

In networking, there are really two types of speaking. The first is an educational presentation about the speaker’s business. Usually you would give this type as a part of a closed networking group such as BNI. The entire purpose of this speech is to educate other members of the group about your business and who would be a good referral for you. Of course, the format will differ depending on the group, but these will usually be around ten minutes long.

The other type of presentation is an informational piece based on the industry-specific knowledge which the speaker has as a result of his expertise in his business. So, in this case, the marketing expert might speak about getting out the message using new media. The IT expert might offer up advice about how to maintain your computer. An attorney might talk about how to secure your intellectual property. Most presentations which are a part of a networking event (like a Chamber lunch) would fall into this category. The primary goal of this type is to help establish yourself as an expert in the field.

Now, in both of these situations, your goal is not to sell your product or service — at least not directly. In the first type, you are merely trying to help your “ambassadors” help you, not necessarily turn them into clients. In the second case, you are providing value with no expectation of return. Of course, the information you provide may inspire them to buy from you, but if you ever utter the phrase “special offer, just for you”, then you’ve probably overstepped the bounds.

There are a number of techniques I’ve seen used to good effect in both types of presentations. In the upcoming days we will take a look at them in more detail. Until then, you may want to take a look at how you would present your business and on which topics you could speak which might interest and inspire others.

Photo credit: Brad Harrison