I love networking. I enjoy the idea that I will walk into a room and barely know a soul and leave the room knowing that I’ve struck up at least one conversation with an interesting person from whom I’ve learned something useful.
The first part of successful networking is your mindset. Entering a room thinking about how nervous you are or how tongue tied you feel will only serve to make you nervous and tongue tied. Entering the room with your shoulders back, your head held high and an imaginary set of devil horns on your head with the phrase “your ass is mine!” running through your head will give you a laugh for a start and secondly enable you to come across as an immediately confident person who is in control.
Smile. Smiling creates positive chemicals in you and also helps you relax. Relaxing helps your brain create neuro-enhancing chemicals, which in turn help you think more productively. The little electrical impulses in your brain literally fire off faster when you’re happy and smiling.
Your body language helps create these good chemicals too (watch Amy Cuddy on Ted Talks (http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html)
So stand tall, breathe from your diaphragm and look people straight in the eye. To make yourself look bigger, you can put your hands on your hips or simply puff up your chest a little – think silver back gorilla! You can have a good time with this stuff!
So now your mindset and your body language is giving off the correct confident messages to everyone, all you need to do now is spot either someone on their own or a group of between two or three people. If you approach a couple, then just make sure that they’re not too engrossed in a private conversation. This is easy to spot because they’ll be close in together and look quite intense. A group of three is easy because that’s unlikely to be personal or so intense.
Notice that people stand at roughly a forty five degree angle to each other in a room. Be aware of the distance between people. If you invade someone’s personal space they’ll flinch in some way – either shift suddenly, blink or actually step back. Standing at an appropriate distance from people will help you build that all-important rapport.
Building rapport is essentially what good networking is all about. People like people whom they think are like themselves. They also like people who are genuinely interested in them. A networking conversation is like a good game of tennis; it’s evenly matched and goes backwards and forwards in a regular rhythm. Good conversation is a fair exchange of listening and talking, so if you know you tend to ramble on, then learn to button it whilst other people speak. When other people are speaking, do NOT be thinking of what you’re going to say next because this is NOT listening. Clear your mind of your stuff and listen carefully to others.
There are several reasons for good listening when networking:
- Not many people are really listened to in life and this will be a pleasant experience for the people you’re networking with
- You will learn something new, useful and potentially discover something out that will lead to a sale
- You will find out what the person’s interests and needs are, thus being able to address those needs and interests with your product or service
- It’s polite and no one buys from rude people
Ask lots of questions about the people you’re networking with, if you’re stuck for ideas, here are a few subjects:
- Their business
- Their hobbies and interests
- Their family – if they’ve mentioned it already, if not, don’t go there
- Their outfit – shoes, handbags, jackets, dresses or ties are good for positive comments
- The venue – good, bad or indifferent
- Other networking events
- Other venues
- The weather – always good in the UK
- The food or the drink on offer
- The speaker
- The economy
- Golf, cars, pets, kids, sport, fashion, art, theatre, books, music etc…..
The list is endless. My favourites are:
- So, tell me about your business
- What do you get up when you’re not working?
- A good or topical TV programme – did you see……last night?
That’s it, those are my three openers and that usually gets enough information to ask follow on questions. Because I am curious I ask lots of questions and I’m genuinely interested in finding out about people’s businesses and lives. Adopt a sense of curiosity and networking will always be fun.
Finally, pick up on a few key words and phrases that the person you’re talking to has used. This helps them know that you are literally speaking the same language and that you’ve been listening carefully.
Overall, enter networking with a sense of fun, pleasure and curiosity and you’ll begin to thoroughly enjoy the experience, plus you’ll win some great business in the process.
Forthcoming Events from Rebecca Bonnington
Introduction to NLP Evening on the 23rd January from 6pm to 8:30pm at The Scotsman Hotel, Edinburgh. An evening of fun for those who are curious to know how NLP can help them in their working and personal lives. Tickets £25, available by going to www.rebeccainspires.com and clicking on SHOP and EVENTS.
Learn NLP with Rebecca, a Society of NLP trained business professional. She learnt her craft with the co-founder of NLP, Richard Bandler and with John and Kathleen LaValle. The course runs from the 4th to 10th February at The Scotsman Hotel in Edinburgh. Invest only £1549.00 in yourself and reap the rewards for the rest of your life. Go to www.rebeccainspires.com and click on SHOP and EVENTS to book your place. ONLY FIVE places are available so book early. You can call Rebecca on 07734 934084 or email her for more details Rebecca@rebeccainspires.com