You know how important networking is for business. If you do it well it can fabulous for you helping to build relationships as well as being a source of new clients.
Even though I'm an intrepid New Yorker, I still get the shakes walking into a crowded room alone. Here are eight easy things you can do to ease your way.
1. It's easy to get to know your host on the internet
Only enter a room once you know the background of your host and any guests you want to meet. This takes just a few moments on the internet but gives you the leading edge (plus something to talk about).
2. It's easy to find the hot topics in the industry of your host online
You are never going to look boorish when you ask knowledgeable questions about your hosts business.
3. Not just Google and websites.
An old adage of sales, is to look at what's on the wall. Meaning look to see things in someone's office that can help you build a relationship sailboats, kids, dogs, vacation photos. Linkedin is your modern what's on the wall. You can research companies as well as individuals and get great information you'll never find on their websites.
4. Want to be interesting and knowledgeable?
Read the paper every day, in hand or online. Even if only for a few minutes and you only read the lead paragraphs.
5. My (Debbie's) favourite opening line
Smile, and say "tell me about your business". Use your own words
of course, but it works like a charm for me. People love to talk about themselves, they're pleased, flattered and surprised you ask and it's a great way to start a conversation. This leads to point two.
6. Help them remember your name better
Studies show people often forget the first 15 seconds of a conversation so they have already forgotten who you are. At a natural pause in the conversation casually drop in "You may not have caught my name earlier. It ...
7. Ease moving on
If you're speaking with someone and want to move on, look for another person or group nearby. Say "Oh that person (or group) looks interesting. Let's ask them to join us". Then act like a host and introduce whom you are with, stating their name and an interesting piece of information about them as a talking point. As they start to chat, make your exit.
8. The follow-up note
Maybe the single most important thing you can do in networking is sending a quick note the next day. This stands out as few people bother to do it. It shows that you took the time to write a personal note and that you not only remember the conversation but really valued it. It also serves to remind the person of who you are and what you do.