Making 10 minutes count

If you’ve had much experience of networking, you’ll be quite familiar with the concept of the 10 minute presentation. For the benefit of the uninitiated, this is an opportunity for group members to take it in turns to give a more in depth analysis of what their business does and what it can offer to customers.

Of course, all members get a minute at each and every meeting in which they can do a quick reminder of who they are, what they offer, the contacts they’re looking for and many finish this off with a flourish, perhaps quoting a semi-humorous or at least, memorable, strapline. When a group has been together for some time and the members know each other quite well, you often start to see and hear “audience participation” at this stage which shows that attention has been paid and some familiar phrases picked up and repeated at the appropriate moment.

Given that this happens, you might wonder why a 10 minute session is important. Don’t the members have enough information from a regular repeat of 1 minute soundbites? Is it really necessary for others to have an in depth understanding of a particular business they’re not involved in when they only have to be looking out for leads for their colleagues?

As always, there are different ways of looking at this. If you’re trying to find a lead for someone in another trade or profession, you really do need to have a proper understanding of how they work and the exact parameters of the jobs they most want to do. If you are going to suggest that a contact of yours might like to advertise in a magazine or on a website, you’ll need to know what sort of magazine it is, what size, the type of paper used, colour or monochrome, how it’s distributed and where. Is the website frequently visited, who it is directed at, what it is about and so on. The list could be endless. Now, of course you’ll never be an expert in that particular avenue of business – if you were you’d probably be a competitor but some worthwhile knowledge is more than helpful.

I’ve also seen another way in which the “10 minutes” works. Members give presentations which they illustrate with real examples and if they pick the right ones, their colleagues will immediately start to realise where this could impact on them as individuals or businesses. So an analysis of an IT problem which the audience hasn’t had but very soon might suffer from will engage attention and potentially lead to jobs for the computer expert in the future.

I remember listening to a very good session which drew on real life incidents. I could see that one member who was listening was relating all this to scenarios within their own business workplace. This was directly followed by a meeting between the two club members which resulted in a contract for the presenter. A greater understanding of what other people offer can often make you realise that you do need something you had previously dismissed or though you had already covered.

So these opportunities are well worthwhile and should be grabbed with both hands. After all in a group of 25 members, you’ll only get two chances per year even if you meet weekly and nobody else joins! Occasionally, people want to avoid it either because they don’t have time to prepare or find it embarrassing to speak for a longer period. To them I say, what would you do if a customer suddenly asked you to talk about your business for 10 minutes and made it clear that there was a deal riding on it? I don’t think you’d say “Hang on while I prepare it for some time next week” would you?