Stay alert. Listen for opportunity!
Pay attention to small talk. Big ideas can come from small talk. Small talk connects us, whether the setting is business or social.
When done right and with tact, knowing how to schmooze can open up new professional doors, build your social network and help you land more business. Don’t be a “Chatty Cathy” or a “Talking Tommy.” Be a good listener. Why? Because listening keeps the attention on the other person. When you ask someone questions about him or her self, it actually can make them come away from the conversation with a more favorable impression of you. Listen carefully for information that can keep the conversation going.
When at a networking event, spend a little time observing who is in the room, what they are doing and how they are doing. Next, jump right in. Be the first to say “hello.” Smile first and shake hands with someone. Demonstrate your self-confidence and genuine interest by executing a firm shake. Introduce yourself. Be casual. Talk about things they have in common. You learn how to do that by asking questions and listening to the answers.
“Working the room is both physical and mental,” says Dianna Booher, founder of Booher Consultants in Dallas and author of many books, including Communicate With Confidence: How to Say It Right the First Time and Every Time. “You have to want to connect. In a social situation, many people think, ‘How quickly can I get out of here?’ Instead, view the event as an opportunity. Stay in the line of traffic and meet people.”
If the idea of schmoozing makes you want to hide under a rock or if you’re shy. . . get over it. You don’t have to be an extrovert. Even introverts can network if they understand the reasons and tactics behind the science of networking. If you want to network and build relationships, you have to work on it a little bit at a time. Be brave. Schmoozing is the kind of easy talking that smart sophisticated types seem to do naturally. Very few started out that way. Schmoozing is a learned skill. Schmoozing does not equal an obnoxious, self-absorbed and self-centered sales pitch. That doesn’t work.
Less is more at the outset. Talk less. Listen more. When you talk it’s a good idea to stay away from politics, religion and other sometimes touchy subjects when striking up a conversation with strangers. Avoid giving your “30-second connection” or “elevator speech.” That makes you come across as very insincere and like you’re just selling something. There is a time and place for that but it’s ususally not at a large network gathering. It’s best for small groups where member stand and tell a little about themselves and their business.
If you are a network beginner, it might be better to begin networking with the people you already know. If the thought of entering a room full of strangers makes you cringe, then relax and take an alternate route. Pick a network event and invite one or two of your friends to go with you.
“Pay attention to projects, to details, to trends, and most of all to people.” – Susan RoAne, The Mingling Maven®
Be bodacious. Put yourself out there. Many people fear networking because they’re afraid they’ll be rejected. That happens very rarely in networking. This fear will prevent you from meeting interesting people and people who may become interested in you. Networking can play a key part in linking you with a wider range of people who can help you to achieve more in your business and in your personal life.
Networking is NOT a quick fix to a failing business or stalled sales career. It takes due diligence. It takes a sincere interest in “how to” network better and more effectively. It’s the ongoing investigation as to what you can do better to make it work better for you. Having said that, sometimes it can provide immediate results for those prepared to invest their time and energy.
To become an efficient networker you need to put in the effort. Stay alert. Listen. Never snooze. Schmoozing is a contact sport. You can’t do it alone from your office on the phone or via computer. You must get out there and press flesh.
Bestselling author Harvey Mackay once said, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty!” The key is to establish a relationship before you need it.
Most people enjoy helping others. In addition to building long-lasting business relationships, networking is also about helping others. If you genuinely care about people, you have a much better chance at networking success!
Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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