Networking – it’s what some people do with a passion, with such ease and confidence, elegantly working a room. How we envy them, because for some of us the very notion of networking with strangers fills us with dread.
But making the most of social small talk is a valuable skill that we can teach ourselves, because you never know what doors a new contact can open in those few minutes.
1. Think of networking as a little moment of free marketing
It’s just another part of your marketing tool kit, which can be refined and improved. And like all tools in the kit – knowing when and how to use it, will serve you well.
Prepare by writing down two or three short sentences about yourself and your business or idea and learn these in advance. Make it current, factual and positive.
This doesn’t need to be a sales pitch, it’s a conversation-starter; an opportunity to introduce yourself and your business to new people or tell people you already know something new so that they can leave with a refreshed version of your “asset value”.
2. Networking is just social communication
It’s a conversation between people; not you trying to sell your latest product or service, but a taster, an appetiser.
Give a glimpse of what you do using positive, confident language (which you’ve already prepared!). And it’s two-way – show an interest in what others have to offer so all parties can see if there’s something of mutual interest to follow-up.
3. Break the uncomfortable first contact by asking a question
Be conversational in your approach with a few casual questions: “how have you found the event so far”, “what’s your business about”, “who’s been your favourite speaker so far”, etc.
Top tip for the tongue tied: worry less about what you have to sell, focus on being an interested person. Top sales people are often the ones with the biggest ears!
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