Networking – Ever Have Trouble Starting a Conversation at a Business Function?

NETWORKING – Ever Have Trouble Starting a Conversation at a Business Function?
(674 Words _ Less than 3 minutes to read)

Many of you may list “networking” as one of your marketing instruments, but how can you be more effective? There is a definitive art to initiating contact and creating meaningful interaction.

FIRST CONTACT:
Smile. You have about ten seconds before the person in front of you (subconsciously) decides whether they like you or not. With such little time few words can be exchanged, hence their judgment is primarily based on body communication. So lean in (a little), make good eye contact, touch them on the elbow or shake hands. Take the initiative and be the first one to say hello. All this shows attention, confidence and immediately displays your interest in the other person.

As soon as the introductions are made, visually attach a picture of their name to their face. When the conversation starts, don’t interrupt. Exhibit empathy and understanding by nodding your head and involving your whole body in engaging the person you’re talking with. And always, always, remember the other person’s name; use their name often throughout the conversation. Nothing is sweeter to someone’s ears than their own name. Always maintain good eye contact. If you start looking around the room you’re toast; maintain eye contact at least 70% of the time. The ability to initiate dialogue with people through small talk is a learned skill but can lead to big things, according to Debra Fine, author of The Fine Art of Small Talk. E-mail me for her top 9 tips in starting − and ending conversations.

INTERACTION: OK, you’ve initiated a dialogue, now how do you create effective interactions.

Secret #1: Focus on them. People like to talk about themselves, even the most reserved. Listen attentively. Remember God gave you two ears and one mouth – spend twice the time listening versus talking. Demonstrate interest in them and their problems and restrain your desire to talk about yourself, your organization or solutions. Ask questions that sincerely demonstrate you believe the other person’s opinion is of particularly worth. Focus on their triumphs. Find out their passions. Laugh at their jokes.

Secret #2: Be generous. There is a timeless Zig Ziglar quote, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” Whenever you meet somebody, try to make that person successful. That’s what made Keith Ferrazzi, (author of Never Eat Alone), a master networker, the youngest partner in Deloitte Consulting’s history and a top executive in his thirties with a network of relationships that stretched from Washington’s corridors of power to Hollywood’s A-list. Ferrazzi’s form of connecting to the world around him is based on generosity, helping friends connect with other friends. So don’t be a networking jerk. Don’t keep score. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.

Secret #3: With the appropriate cues have 3-5 simple “power questions” that can steer the dialogue towards potential indicators of interest. Here are some of mine … “I’m collecting people’s definitions of marketing for a book … what’s yours?” (P.S. Whatever their response, it’s never wrong).
“Do you believe you get the best return on your marketing investment? Why not?”
“Which marketing instruments work well for you, what’s not working as well?”
“What’s your biggest challenge in marketing your organization?”

Secret #4: Spread a few FUD seeds. Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt. All great motivators!
“My research shows 80+% of organizations fall into one or more of the three marketing deathtraps.” Invariably they ask me what they are.

Secret #5: Have a simple, brief but intriguing verbal/visual descriptor of your business clearly in your mind (10 seconds or less). “Marketing Symphony orchestrates strategic breakthroughs for firms by crafting a relevant, compelling, credible and differentiated message which is conveyed through the right marketing instruments that move the heart, mind and soul of your target audience.”

Conclusion: Ultimately, networking is not the end but the means to build generous relationships so that your prospects, clients and referral sources think of you first, often and well.
Happy Networking!