Networking Evokes Extreme Emotions
In fact, urban myths states, “People would rather go to bed with snakes and spiders than speak in public.” And so it is with networking; many people dread networking and all it entails and yet when used professionally and with the right attitude, it is one of the most powerful business and personal development strategies.
I’m known to be an authority on conﬁdence and professional development. Over the years I've discovered one truth about networking. "What is it?" I imagine you're asking. Well it's all about being interested in others and willing to build friendships. People have hidden talents yet sadly lack self-belief and self-awareness to expose these skills in a fun, entertaining and empowering manner.
Ask Great Questions
Engage with other networkers. Start with rapport questions such as, "What are you plans for Christmas?" or "What are you doing over the holiday period?"as these will quickly help to set the scene. However move smartly to more meaty questions such as:
•“What business problem does your company solve?”
•“What’s the best example you have of how you are doing that?”
•“What has been the biggest win for you/your company this year?"
•“What’s different in your life/business since last year?”
•“Tell me something about you, that’s unusual or unique.”
The Ski Guy
Occasionally, I tell people that I married my ski instructor. This kind of personal and usual statement keeps conversations lively and fun. It allows folks to explore different avenues. Your key objective is to arouse interest and to be remembered positively. This week I was interviewing Cathy O'Dowd for my new podcast series due out in January. Tune into that and find out some seriously random facts that will hook your imagination.
Do you enjoy podcasts? Then tune into Confidence in Your Pocket. You'll find a recording dedicated to networking at Christmas.
If you do the "taster, tempter" job well, the person you are talking to will respond by saying something along the lines of, "That sounds interesting, tell me more..." And at this stage, that’s all you want and need.
Proof that networking pays off, is the very fact that I was selected to run a recent 12 month course. It’s all thanks to meeting a total stranger and being approachable. Put brieﬂy, it’s due to being referred by someone who heard me speak over 5 years ago! Dr. Jane C Barber met me at a networking event in Manchester and we have stayed on each other’s radar ever since. Yes networking can be slow burn. Sometimes things happen serendipitously and quickly however move often that not, you need patience.
Be the First to Give
Giving at any time pays dividends and particularly at Christmas. If you get into a discussion with a colleague or fellow networker and realise that there is some way you can help, that kindness will be remembered. Like my situation with Jane above, it may not translate to a direct business in the short term, however when the recipient is speaking to a colleague looking for your service in the future, who do you think will naturally come to mind? Christmas could be the one time to boost your prospects in tough times. Parties, awards ceremonies and events pop up everywhere. Make it your Pre-New Year Resolution to attend as many relevant ones as you possibly can.
You know networking is all about building rapport and that takes time. When you connect with people simply aim to share ideas, stories and something of interest.
“If you are caught selling, you are tying too hard…” says my speaker colleague and business development expert, James Nathan. It’s a fact that if you overload people with information they’ll most likely forget it... and you. Make a good impression using the tips above then others will be happy to introduce you to people outside of the room, after all that's what business referrals is all about.
The truth of the matter is this; the more you tell, the less likely they are to remember. What you want to create is a short and simple message that ripples. And there's none better than the ripples you create Christmas.
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