We’ve all been there. At the conference or the cocktail party or the quick break between meetings. You’re surrounded by people and looking to make some connections. Nobody wants to be that guy, though. You know, the one passing out business cards and working everyone as quickly as he can. It’s not effective and it’s actually quite annoying.
Well, there is a better way. And when you improve your skills in networking situations it spills over into other areas of your life like making friends.
Here is what I’ve learned. There are five strategies everyone can incorporate:
- Have a quick and interesting answer to the questions everyone asks, “So, what do you do?” It can be even more effective if you make it a story, something compelling that gets people wondering how you can help them. You define a problem they have, show how you can solve it, then explain how life gets better because of it. It might be “You know how you have a website for your local business but nobody finds you on Google? I help companies optimize there websites so that they get found when people are searching online for their service or product – so the business owner can focus on servicing her customers and growing her business.”
- Ask questions!!! You have to have a genuine desire to connect with others. Your attitude will come across so make sure it’s real. Questions but rapport because they show our interest. And avoid dead end questions like “How are you?” or “Where you from?” Find the questions that will solicit stories. “What was the most interesting thing you learned from that?” “What is something exciting happening at your company/in your life right now?” “What are you looking forward from the conference?”
- Give something back. Reciprocity is appreciated and creates trust because it balances the scales. It could be a free sample or it could be gum. Or a compliment!
- Take care of yourself. Get rest, drink water, stay refreshed and recharged. It shows!
- Follow up. Social media makes it easy. A personal email with something of mutual interest is great. A thank you note goes a long way!
Remember, it’s all about relationships!