When many of us are looking for new business, we can find ourselves in the mysterious world of business networking; but for most, attending open networking events is a less than enjoyable experience.
We all know that to find new customers we must speak with more people, so why do so many of us find this such a daunting task?
The reason we find this difficult is that we were all conditioned as children by a simple sequence of words – “Don’t talk to strangers”. The first challenge is to defy that conditioning, and I’ve found that the easiest way to resolve this is to understand that pretty much everybody else is feeling the same as you. Getting over the initial ‘fear’ is one thing; however, to succeed in a network, here are some simple rules that have worked for me, and I am sure if you choose to employ them they could have significant benefit to you too.
Have a plan
Regardless of the size of the event, it is unlikely that you can develop lasting business relationships with all in the room, and I am certain that there will be some people who will be of considerable more value than others. Set a goal and stick to it. It may be to make a number of new connections or to set a meeting with a specific person. Just turning up and seeing what happens is leaving your success to chance.
Know what you are going to talk about
Starting a conversation is the hardest thing to do when entering a room full of strangers. To open conversation, the easiest place to start is to talk about a subject that you all have in common. The one subject that you all have in common is the event you are at. As such, plan a series of questions related to the event.
Talk of how you help people
“So what do you do then?” This is a question that you are almost guaranteed to be asked, yet each time I witness it, the receiver of the question looks startled and bemused and, hesitantly giving their job title or profession as the answer. Your goal from this question is to open a conversation by being interesting to them. So when asked this question please rephrase it in your head to “How do you help people?” And answering that question instead.