A "Pep Talk" on Networking
I have done a lot of networking over the past few years, and although it can be a challenge to my comfort zone, I have found it is the best way to get new leads and clients—and most of the time, I enjoy it.
Here are my Top 10 Tips:
1. Be a friendly face. Smile and make others feel comfortable.
2. Show more interest in listening to others than talking about yourself. Ask questions!
3. Focus on being a “connector.” If you go in to “sell” you’ve missed the point. Be willing to help others meet contacts, establish a friendly relationship, and the rest will follow.
4. Add a little color to your conversation. Telling a funny or interesting story can really help break the ice.
5. Maintain eye contact. Make the person you are speaking to feel like the only person in the room. Don’t scan the room during a conversation looking for your next target.
6. Don’t interrupt a group in conversation. Walk up, smile, make eye contact with someone. At a break in the conversation, they will acknowledge you and begin introductions. If they are totally engrossed in their conversation, and that doesn’t happen, find someone else to chat with.
7. What do you do when someone (rudely) interrupts and tries to manipulate the conversation? I was with a friend one time who handled this beautifully. He smiled at “Buttinsky” and nicely said that we were old friends who had not seen each other in a while and had a lot of catching up to do…perhaps we can talk later. Beautiful!
8. Have you ever been held captive by someone who has your ear? At the first break in conversation, excuse yourself for a phone call, to the restroom, or to grab a drink. Remember to be gracious and polite even during your escape!
9. Come up with a tagline that catches someone’s attention and makes them want to ask questions about your business. Mine is “Communicate Brilliantly.”
10. Be open-minded. Don’t feel you have to scope out certain people or professions—you never know who you will meet, what or who they know, or how they can connect you to new business.