As part of the ongoing More Than a Few Words podcast, Indianapolis small business leader Lorraine Ball sat down with our own Robby Slaughter to talk about productivity and business networking.
It’s important to have an objective when you network. You don’t network for the sake of networking itself, you network to promote your business, you network because you want to find new contacts, because you want to learn more about the space that you are in.
I think the most important tool you can bring to a networking event is a pen and a piece of paper. I’m amazed how many people go to a networking event and never write anything down. How am I going to help you, how am I going to connect you to specific resources if all I have is your business card?
One thing that can be very helpful when going into a networking event is trying to get an advance list of the attendees. If you know who’s going to be there, then you can scout out people you may want to meet, and you can gameplan for your interaction with them. In any situation it’s better to be more prepared than less prepared, and that goes doubly for networking, especially if it’s something you’re uncomfortable with. You can minimize your level of discomfort by being extra prepared for any conversation you may have.
In addition to that tip, an Entreprenuer article provided some helpful ideas for networking. We’ve included some of those below.
Resist the urge to arrive late
Being fashionably late isn’t a thing when it comes to networking. Get there early so you can meet others who arrive alone. Once everyone is grouped up, it’s much harder to break into a conversation.
Ask easy questions
Sometimes it can be as simple as thinking about a question you wish someone would ask you and going up and asking them that very thing. If nothing like that jumps to mind, you can never go wrong with a simple, “May I join you.”
Share your passion
Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.
There are a million companies out there, with a team of entrepreneurs behind each one. Don’t be afraid to share what you think makes your company special. People respond to passion.
Don’t hijack the conversation
Some people who dislike networking may overcompensate by commandeering the discussion. Don’t forget: The most successful networkers (think of those you’ve met) are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker.
This is a great tip for dating as well as networking. Let the other person talk. Be an engaged listener. But don’t feel the need to redirect every topic back to yourself. No one likes it when they feel as if the other person is merely biding their time until they can talk again instead of actually listening. Think about terrible conversations you’ve had with people. Don’t do what they did. It can be as simple as that.
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