What picture just came into your mind when you read that? Did you picture walking around a room with a handful of business cards and stopping every 4 or 5 minutes to give your elevator pitch to a perfect stranger?
DELETE THAT PICTURE!
99.9% of all of my business comes from networking. But the type of networking that leads to business for me is this: walking into a room, feeling confident and happy to be there; approaching and/or being approached by an individual and engaging that individual in a conversation. Of course I will talk about my business at some point but I will concentrate on being engaging, interesting and interested in my listener first. If there is an opportunity for them to land me business it will reveal itself (or not) Sometimes that doesn't happen till months, years later. I recently landed business based on a recommendation from someone who I don't even remember having met!
Here are a few of my Rules of Engagement for Networking:
- Start with Rapport Building: When you approach a stranger at an event, the first thing you want to do is create rapport. You can create rapport nonverbally, by replicating (not out and out mimicking) the gestures, facial expressions, stance, vocal tone or breathing of the other person. (for more detailed tips watch my video on nonverbal communication) Or you can create rapport verbally, by asking an open-ended , non business related question or making a POSITIVE & AUTHENTIC comment about the event or the other person.
- Excite don't Recite: Inevitably the question, "And what do you do" will come up. Many of us will then shift our posture, change our vocal tone and launch into a stiff recitation of our job or service which is usually about as exciting as a recitation of the phone book. Instead, use one of the four attention getting techniques I recommend in my Put Your Best Pitch Forward white paper, then share what it is you do in the same engaging style as you would use with a close friend.
- Think DEF instead of ABC: David Mamet in his play turned film, Glengarry Glenross, made famous the phrase; Always BeClosing (ABC). I prefer the phrase; Discuss Engaging in the Future (DEF). I have never closed a deal at the end of a networking conversation, have you? It's the future engagement that leads to business.
If you want to learn more networking tips, check out some of my other blog posts on networking.