Have you joined the silent minority? You go to a networking event and stand on the sidelines as if you were watching a football game – not a word is spoken. Networking doesn’t work that way! You have to get in the game!
Not saying “hello” to at least 5 or 6 people means you have probably wasted your time showing up.
Silence is NOT golden when it comes to business networking. Speak up! Be vocal. Free speech is a gift. Talking and speaking builds rapport. Networking has no code of silence.
It’s important to learn how to start conversations – and keep them going. Being nervous and shy doesn’t work. Break out of your shell and break the silence. To get noticed. . . you have to say something. Individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking is paramount. Show energy and passion for your business. Have a natural conversation with people instead of pitching them about your business. Don’t jump in and ask tough questions or probe too deeply. Keep the conversation light. Take the first few minutes to make a connection and show that you are interested in them as a person.
Position yourself as a thoughtful and caring person. Say things that get you noticed and keep the conversation going – at least until you find out whether the person you are talking with is someone you think you might be interested in knowing better. You can usualy do that in 3 to 5 minutes – sometimes sooner! If there is a lull in the conversation don’t be to quick to fill the silence. Listen thoughtfully.
Go with your momentary impulse. What happened today that you could share that might be helpful. Being silent can kill a personal relationship faster than you can say, “What did ‘I’ do?” It can also stymie business relationships.
Keep the conversation UP! No negative talk at a networking event. If someone says something to start the spiral downward, say something quickly to bring it back up. Think before you speak. Choose your words carefully. Two negative comments from someone and it’s time to silently shout, “NEXT!” and move on to someone else.
Never dominate the topic. Be friendly. Conversation should be give and take. When you talk too much, people feel like they aren’t being heard, and that often leads to an immediate disconnect. Talking too much is boring, especially if it’s always and only about you. You don’t have to be the center of attention. The person asking the questions gets the information and is in charge of the conversation. Soemtimes is it wise to ask questions that you already know the answer to.
Most people love to talk about themselves. Shy people play into this natural tendency. That makes them more likeable. Which makes them more memorable!
Don’t know what to talk about? Share your personal interests. How about sharing information, your expertise, your resources and your contacts. Seek commonalities before you reach out to someone. Networking is about contribution. You do that by talking. Be prepared. Take some time at your office to think about what topics might be good for conversation before you arrive at the meeting. Networking is more about listening that it is about talking. While that is true, someone has to start the conversation.
“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.” ~ Rachel Naomi Remen, Educator and Author
With all the social media that is available today (especially “texting”), we seem to be losing the art of conversation. Please don’t let that happen. The breakdown of communication can become a major factor in determining your success in networking. Become a conversation innovator. Say something or get left behind. People are afraid to speak up because they fear rejection. Be brave. The true art of conversation in a learned skill. Go slow. Read some books on the subject. It will pay off big.
If you want to make sure your networking efforts are a complete failure, keep silent. Better yet. Just stay home.
Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! 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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