I’m in business for myself, now what? “They” tell me to go out and meet new people but where do I go? What do I say and to whom? Help me…I’m frustrated!
It is no wonder one gets frustrated with attending business networking events. You go to an event without a networking plan, meet a bunch of other business people who don’t have a networking plan, and spend most of the networking time talking to people you already know.
Let’s break it down. Networking is defined as the sharing of information, ideas, and resources. Notice–the word “selling” is nowhere in the definition.
So, why is it that most people you meet at an event begin by telling you everything they “do” and what they “sell” and why you need their product or service? Most do not even take the time to ask you about who you are and what you do. Maybe, you are guilty of doing the same.
Back when I was beginning to write and speak on the subject of Business Networking I was doing a little research while attending an event. I decided that I was not going to be the one to initiate the conversation other than saying hello. I sat down at a table and was meeting a friend’s husband for the first time when another women who I had seen before, but did not know sat down with us at the table. I smiled, said hello, and she launched into telling me all about her business and why I needed her service. I timed how long she talked before she took a breath and said, so, what do you do? (It took her 4 minutes.) Of course, normally I would not let someone rattle on wasting my time and ultimately their time, but I was doing my research. My answer to her question was…oh, we are in the same business. At that point she was speechless. I don’t know what she felt or thought at that time, but I imagine she didn’t even stop to think about changing the way she approaches meeting people and went along her merry uninformed networking way. Does this sound like you or someone you know?
You can get rid of frustration by becoming an Informed Networker. An Informed Networker will be prepared with a few key questions to ask another upon meeting them for the first time. Here are a few I use:
Is this your first time attending this event, organization, meeting? (Ice breaker question)
What do you do?
How long have you been doing that?
Ask a follow-up type of question.
These questions will get the conversation going. Even if the other person starts trying to “sell” you their wares, keep asking questions and be a gatherer of information. In future posts we will delve into key questions and processes that will maximize the time you spend networking and turn those “chance” meetings into profits.
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