Networking is all about building relationships. When you show up with great conversation skills and are consistent you’ll be memorable.
It’s a process and it takes time. You’ve no doubt heard the phrase, ‘People do business with those they know, like and trust’. There’s no better way to build those attributes of ‘know, like and trust’ than by face-to-face networking. There’s no way to build relationships and have fun at networking than by creating, maintaining and exiting conversations with grace.
Keep The Conversation Going
I know… you’re thinking ‘I’m just getting the conversation started, and you want me to keep it going beyond the initial question!’ It’s easy! What’s the single thing you have in common … the event itself!
Here are some key Conversation Skills to keep things going:
- “I’m Jane, by the way, nice to meet you…” “So, is this your first time at this event?”
- “So, how did you hear about this event?”
- “What a great place for an event? Have you ever been here before?”
After that, try learning more about your new acquaintance. Questions can include:
- “What line of work are you in?”
- “Are you from here? Or have you recently moved to ____?”
Keep them talking. The general rule is: People usually like to talk about themselves. So, once they tell you what they do, ask questions. Here are a few:
- “That’s very interesting…” “What drew you to that line of work?”
- “What do you like about your job?”
- “Why are you interested in working in that industry specifically?”
It’s that time, ‘You’re ready to move on, but how do you exit the conversation smoothly?
Even if you are nervous, or your new acquaintance is, remember you are there to mix and mingle – don’t limit yourself to one person all night. You are not doing yourself, or them any favors.
If you’d like to exit a conversation, try one of these lines:
- “Alright, I’m going to get some food now that the line has died down a bit. It was great meeting you!”
- “Have you met Sue yet? She works in your industry as well. I’m sure you both will have plenty to talk about.” Try to connect the two if you can.
- “I’d like to mingle with a few others. It was great meeting you. Can we exchange cards for a follow up?”
- “Well, I think it’s time for me to meet some others now. I would love to connect with you again. May I have your card/contact information?”
Above all – Have fun and enjoy the process.
The first couple of times are always the hardest. The trick is to keep at it and practice your conversation skills often. If you come from a place of being authentic, being yourself and practicing the best conversation skill of all – listening – you’ll be a success.
Deb Alcadinho is the owner of Your Brand Power and Westshore Women’s Business Network (WWBN). She works with business and professional women to develop their personal brands to help them gain their competitive edge and stand out in a crowded marketplace, increasing revenues and their branding. WWBN provides a networking platform, training and business development for business women to connect, inspire, learn, grow and succeed.