Here is a mixture of several networking ideas that will help you be more comfortable when networking.
Networking is NOT prospecting! You can always prospect, but good networking opportunities for developing new business contacts are rare. Use the Ten Commitments of Networking to assist you in making lots of new friends and business contacts at your next function.
When you show up avoid common crutches. Observe proper netiquette. Don’t arrive too late. Don’t leave too early. Don’t drink too much. Don’t gorge at the buffet table. Remember, you never have a second chance to make a good first impression. Do not gossip.
Don’t stay huddled in groups with people you already know. When holding a cold drink, hold it in your left hand to avoid cold handshakes. Remember, networking is not about swooping into the room, collecting lots of business cards, or tossing them like confetti, then doing a vanishing act.
What should you say? Asking, “What do you do?” is a mistake. That brings up a topic you most likely know nothing about. Do some research. Be tuned in to what’s happening in your city. Read the paper, look for humorous articles or movie reviews you could talk about. Develop some preplanned, interesting conversation starters.
You can greatly increase your conversation confidence by developing specific questions to help you begin and by designing answers to the questions most frequently asked about your business. Trust your instincts. Be yourself.
How about letting the other person speak first. Then ask questions. The person who is asking the questions is in control of the conversation. Knowing what the other person is all about will help you tailor your message and deliver it with more relevance.
Identify possibility in every conversation. When you intentionally look for it, you will almost always find it. Communication enables people to connect. Keep the conversation on a positive level at all times. It opens people’s minds to opportunity.
Make observations. Share some trivia. Listen for things you have in common. Make small talk. Remember your purpose is to look for people with which to develop mutually beneficial, long-lasing relationships. Make your first hello upbeat, positive and friendly. If you don’t like your line of work, don’t talk about it. Be prepared. They will generally get around to asking what you do. Have your 30-second connection ready.
Have fun. Smile and talk to lots of people. Do not play it safe by mixing only with business colleagues and good friends. Make good eye contact. Mix and mingle. If you have “minglephobia,” get over it quickly by doing what you fear. Relax. Remind yourself that you are not the only one at this event who may be a little nervous. Expand your horizons. Move past your fears. Speaking positively helps you conquer self-doubt and energizes your spirit.
Practice the art of slipping effortlessly into conversations. When you approach a group of people who are talking, slowly step a little closer to the group. Usually someone will notice and the group will open up to include you. Listen. If you have something to add to the conversation, chime in.
Show respect to people’s comfort levels. Standing in their space is not good. Keep the distance to at least 18 inches to 2 feet when speaking face-to-face. Anything closer and they will usually back away. Be alert.
Copyright © 2013 – 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 Networking 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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