Many people who don’t like to network also don’t like talking about themselves. They find networking difficult or stressful. You are not alone.
If your idea of networking is pitching your product or service to as many people as you can, you’re assuming the “hunter” role. Instead of viewing others in your network as prey, view them as someone you may want to know better.
Focus! Stop trying to make a sale! That should cause you to feel a little less stressful. Focus on “quality of connections!” Effective networking begins with a decision to connect. You will feel less pressure, and the experience will be much more pleasant.
The good news is there is a better way. Networking professionals don’t talk about themselves. If you do all the talking, how can you possibly qualify someone that you might like to work with? Networking should be beneficial to both of you.
In fact, spend the first part of the conversation asking thoughtful questions about the person you meet. Spend your time getting to know the other person. Be engaged and engaging. Be friendly and very curious about them and gain as much information as you can. Demonstrate a sincere interest in them. Use their name often in the conversation. Be humble.
If you think that you never know what to say, come prepared with a few questions that will take the focus off you so you can learn more about them. Find out what their issues and challenges are. Think long term. Is this someone I would like to include in my network? Networking is a long term business and contact building effort.
Ask open ended questions to keep the conversation going. An open-ended question is designed to encourage a full, meaningful answer using the subject’s own knowledge and/or feelings. It is the opposite of a closed-ended question, which encourages a short or single-word answer (yes or no). This is when it is time to be a good listener. Give them your undivided attention and look for ways to connect with them and support them. Find out how you can help them. Networking is not about only getting what you want, it’s about meeting people, building relationships, and supporting others to get what they want.
Give them more questions. This takes the target off you and pins it on the person you are talking with. People love to talk about their business. It’s up to you to give them the opportunity. This sets the law of reciprocity in motion.
“The law of reciprocity sets in motion in-kind responses of individuals based on the actions of others. I like to call this the ‘givers gain®’ approach. It takes the focus off of what you stand to gain from the networking relationship, and in doing so, creates bonds based on trust and friendship. Put it to the test. You’ll be amazed by the outcome.” ~ Ivan Misner
Never allow yourself to be monopolized by one person. Five to seven minutes is an ideal amount of time to spend with anyone.
It will help you discover if the person is a deadbeat and just trying to pitch you. If the person doesn’t turn out to be the right contact you were hoping to connect with, it is perfectly acceptable to excuse yourself politely and gracefully move on.
Don’t focus on yourself. Put your focus where it belongs; on the other person. Doing so will help you increase your chances for networking success.
BONUS Article: Exit Strategies From Networking Bores!
Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. 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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