For many people, going to a networking event is painful. In part because it sometimes feels like people are just handing out cards, looking for a deal. Although I have to say that many of the events I have attended recently I have not seen that.
Another reason that people don’t like networking events is that they are uncomfortable with networking. That is, connecting at a genuine level with someone else to see if there might be a relationship. They don’t know what to say or what to do.
I get it. When I started in my career, I would get my drink and hunker right up to the wall to see what was what. After a career in sales and many years in Toastmasters, I now can have a conversation with almost any willing participant. Here are some ideas that may help you at your next networking event.
First, what is the event and who are the people that will be there? (If you can get their names great, if not, ask yourself what industries are they in, what is the common interest?) Then think through your introduction and practice, yes practice. Trust me when I tell you the naturals were not natural when they started.
“Hi, my name is John Gies with Inspired Outcomes, what brings you to this gathering of conscious business leaders?”
So, what happens after they have answered that question? There are a few areas of conversation that are always safe to explore at a networking event.
- How did you get involved in… (the industry, their company, this gathering)?
- What kinds of clients are you looking to meet?
- Have you done any interesting travel lately? (If they have they will enjoy telling you)
- Where do you want to go next in your career?
- What books, or movies have captured your interest lately?
- Where do you like to go here in town for dinner, lunch, coffee? (As a coffee lover, I love discovering new coffee shops)
Dale Carnegie said it over 80 years ago, “show sincere interest in others and be a good listener.” This is the way to win friends and influence people.
Once you have made a connection and feel like there is potential, it is time to move on. You can say something like, “I really enjoyed meeting you, do you think we should schedule a call to see if there is a way we can help each other?” Then it is time to move on and make another connection.
I never recommend making a pitch. That is what turns off so many people from these networking events. I once saw a mature sales executive block a potential buyer literally in a corner until he could score an appointment. He got the appointment and I will wager he never got the deal.
Patience… if you make a real and genuine connection and nurture it, there will come a time where they will want to know how they can help you.
So, to recap:
- Know your audience (what is the common interest of the group)
- Prepare and practice an introduction (Your names and a question for them)
- Open a conversation and connect
- Ask and answer the question, “Should we connect further”?
- Don’t make a pitch make a connection.
If you would like to learn how you or your team can benefit from better communication skills for accountability, engagement and performance, schedule a call with John to explore the possibilities. CALENDAR