Networking events can be very challenging, especially if you’re someone who isn’t all that comfortable with talking to strangers. In order to network effectively you must be willing and able to articulate your thoughts and ideas as you exchange information. It’s in that process that you develop contacts in order to either further your career or gain new business opportunities. But it goes even deeper than that. Networking involves building and establishing relationships with people who may turn out to be a part of your inner circle.
Every stranger you meet has the potential to have some sort of relationship with you—whether it be as a love interest, friend or customer.
Here are some communication tips for turning those networking strangers into potential customers and building on the relationship:
SMILE: This is a wonderful form of nonverbal communication and can open the door to some engaging conversation. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had strangers smile at me and it led to great conversations. Besides, smiling makes a good first impression!
Speak to EVERYBODY: I’ve been told quite often that I never meet a stranger and that’s true. I’m a communicator and I will talk to anybody. Now you may not be as outgoing as I am and that’s okay, however, in business you need to get in the habit of saying hello to people you come in contact with. A simple “Hello” can lead to awesome future business opportunities.
Be a Good Listener: Once you open the door of communication make sure you take the time to listen to what the other person is saying and ask them questions about themselves instead of making the conversation all about you.
Don’t Hesitate to take the Lead on Striking up a Conversation: There’s an old saying, “He who hesitates is lost.” If you choose to sit back and wait for someone to come up to you to start talking, you may be missing out on a potential new customer and possibly a new friend.
Choose your words carefully: Don’t choose $10 words to have a $0.50 conversation and make sure you know the meanings of any of those $10 words you decide to throw out. “Let me reiterate for you why I’m here.” Get the point?
Now there will be times when conversations will be subject-specific so if you are an IT person talking to another IT person, you can expect to talk about algorithms, applications and broadbands…….while I politely excuse myself and move on to the next person.
Mix Pleasure with Business: People are more inclined to do business with those they know, like, and trust so if you spend your time talking about what you do for business, chances are you’ll be talking to deaf ears. Building relationships with others means getting to know someone beyond what they do. It is in the “chit chat” that you discover what else you might have in common.
When you allow yourself to interact with strangers in a clear, concise and friendly manner, you will discover just how effective a communicator can you can be at those networking events and that’s definitely a win-win!