You’re at a business networking event. You’ve mastered your body language, you’ve read all the business networking books you can get your hands on and now it’s time to actually talk to people at a business networking event. And that means starting a conversation that’s meaningful and not a half-hearted:
What can you say that generates a conversation and makes you both look interesting? And it cannot be run of the mill conversations like “What do you do for a living”. You need nice, open-ended questions that enable a business conversation without sounding like an interrogation. You could also ask how they heard about the event.
Well don’t panic, 1230 TWC have got your back. Here are 10 conversation generators that will get the conversation flowing nicely, but obviously you don’t need to ask them all at once!
The first question is a great one because it enables you to think about who you can connect to the person you’re networking with, when you follow it up with question two, you’re clarifying exactly who they love to work with. Question three enables you to identify who can help from your own network, if help is desired of course. These three questions alone will enable you to build your network and make attractive introductions.
That’s 10 conversations starters! What about three more to really get your conversations going? Try:
I recommend you ask the last three when you have built up a rapport with the networker. To ask them straight away will make it look like you’re assessing their value to your network, and it’s based on their response!
The simplest, I find most effective is “Tell me about you.”
Wishing you many happy business networking conversations
PS What questions would you add to the list?
New to business networking? First of all, subscribe to our 7-day business networking boost, you’ll love it. Secondly, check out this top 11 of business networking books. Although this is in no particular order, there is the perfect book for you, no matter what type of business networking you are looking to succeed with.
What are your favourite business networking books?
From Amazon: You’ve probably heard the expression “It’s not what you know, its who you know.” Well, there’s a lot of truth to it. Of course you always need to work hard at your endeavor of choice (“what you know”). Your value in the business world depends on what you can do for people. Therefore, you must have a skill, information or expertise that others will consume that people will pay for. BUT, having that skill, information or expertise is often not enough to maximize your potential. You need people a network to help you distribute your skills. You need people to help you find a job, a loan, customers, or the right partner. The Skinny on Networking: Maximizing the Power of Numbers is about creating and maintaining your network. Illustrated, narrative and easily read in about one hour, this book condenses the thinking of experts, authors and celebrities alike and presents them in an entertaining and engaging format. In The Skinny on Networking you will learn how to: maximize your reach on the internet; get to the people you need; create networking gravity; employ the principle of weak ties; think like a boomerang; expand your social capital; build a reciprocity field; utilize connectors; move beyond your comfort zone; cold call; leverage initial meeting.
From Amazon: Virtually all job hunting experts agree that networking is the best way to find a great job. But most people don’t have connections to the decision makers who do the hiring. And “networking” books, which are mostly written by and for salespeople, suggest aggressive tactics, often confusing these with real networking. They focus on building a powerful network over the course of a lifetime. But when you need a new job, you don’t have time to build a huge, powerful network. You’ve got to use the network you already have. Orville Pierson, a top expert in job hunting, tells you how to succeed by effectively using your current circle of contacts. He cuts through the myths and misunderstandings to show you how millions of job hunters have networked their way to great new jobs. Highly Effective Networking empowers you to: * Use a small network to reach dozens of insiders and decision makers. * Get the right message to the right people, even if you have never met them. * Create a project plan to organize your networking efforts. * Speak effectively and comfortably with your networking contacts. * Talk to decision makers before the job opening is announced. Networking in job hunting is different than other networking. You don’t have to hobnob with the rich and famous. There’s no need for aggressive sales tactics. You just need to understand how real networking fits into your job search, and then be systematic about doing it.
From Amazon: Packed with valuable insights from 100 of today’s top networkers, and with proven examples from many businesses and professions, this exciting book shows why networking is the most effective marketing tool today.
From Amazon: Make Your Contacts Count is a practical, step-by-step guide for creating, cultivating, and capitalizing on networking relationships and opportunities. Packed with valuable tools, the book offers a field-tested “Hello to Goodbye” system that takes readers from entering a room, to making conversations flow, to following up. Updated from its first edition, the book now includes expanded advice on building social capital at work and in job hunting, as well as new case studies, examples, checklists, and questionnaires. Readers will discover how to:
Job-seekers, career-changers, entrepreneurs, and others will find all the networking help they need to supercharge their careers and boost their bottom lines
From Amazon: In many ways, success at networking is the uncommon application of common knowledge. Most people understand that networking is important to their success?they just lack a step-by-step process to get the results they want. Almost no one really implements a comprehensive methodology that will build a business through networking. Thus, the need to network is “common knowledge,” and the development of the methodology required to be successful at it is the “uncommon application.”
By reading this book, you will experience the true essence and meaning of networking. The 29% Solution gives you the answers to two conflicting questions that a business owner or salesperson faces every day: How can I tend to my existing clients while at the same time network for new business? and, Should I place higher value on my current clients or on new clients?
From Amazon: With over 100,000 copies sold, this is one of the most popular business- and sales-boosting guides ever written. This new edition offers successful entrepreneur and speaker Bob Burg’s proven relationship-building system that thousands of professionals and entrepreneurs have used to turn casual contacts into solid sales opportunities. In Endless Referrals, he shows you how to:
From Amazon: Bestselling author Harvey Mackay reveals his techniques for the most essential tool in business–networking, the indispensable art of building contacts.
Now in paperback, Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty is Harvey Mackay’s last word on how to get what you want from the world through networking. For everyone from the sales rep facing a career-making deal to the entrepreneur in search of capital, Dig Your Well explains how meeting these needs should be no more than a few calls away. This shrewdly practical book distills Mackay’s wisdom gleaned from years of “swimming with sharks,” including:
From Amazon: Network marketing is a burgeoning field, and it can be a frustrating and difficult experience. There are many who have achieved minimal success, and many more who have made no money at all. With these discouraging figures, how can one become a member of the successful elite? Millions agree that the best way to do this is to spend some time with The Greatest Networker in the World.
John Milton Fogg’s extended parable is the story of a young man on the verge of quitting the multilevel marketing business. As he prepares to give his final opportunity meeting, he meets the individual everyone refers to as The Greatest Networker in the World. This warm and wise man takes in his young counterpart and shows him the trade secrets so he too can become a successful network marketer.
The young man soon learns that the trade secrets have very little to do with conventional marketing techniques. In fact, he has to unlearn everything he thought he knew about business. “The paradigm of network marketing is so fundamentally different and distinct from all other paradigms of business, that it requires a pretty complete shift from the way we normally view business to appreciate and understand it.”
The new paradigm is built around one’s habits of thought and discovering that the secrets to network marketing success are within oneself. The values of responsibility, team building, and caring for one’s downline play a much more important role than competitive promotion and advertising.
A critical skill for all marketers is the ability to teach people to teach others. Once one has mastered the new paradigm of multilevel marketing, he needs to not only show his downline how to master it, but also how to teach those techniques to others. This leads to greater leadership within the organization, more stability, improved productivity, and as a result, long-lasting success.
From Amazon: The key to unlimited opportunities for your business starts with Smart Networking. This is the essential guidebook for building business relationships in a wired world. Business strategist Liz Lynch demystifies the process and puts strategic systems in place that build connections worldwide and attract opportunities 24/7.
Packed with powerful strategies tested by years of experience, as well as real-life stories from the field,Smart Networking describes how to integrate face-to-face techniques with a strong online presence. You’ll get low-cost marketing tools that are designed to expand your professional circle exponentially. Lynch will also help you to:
From Amazon: Devora Zack, an avowed introvert and a successful consultant who speaks to thousands of people every year, found that most networking advice books assume that to succeed you have to become an extrovert. Or at least learn how to fake it. Not at all. There is another way.
This book shatters stereotypes about people who dislike networking. They’re not shy or misanthropic. Rather, they tend to be reflective—they think before they talk. They focus intensely on a few things rather than broadly on a lot of things. And they need time alone to recharge. Because they’ve been told networking is all about small talk, big numbers and constant contact, they assume it’s not for them.
But it is! Zack politely examines and then smashes to tiny fragments the “dusty old rules” of standard networking advice. She shows how the very traits that ordinarily make people networking-averse can be harnessed to forge an approach that is just as effective as more traditional approaches, if not better. And she applies it to all kinds of situations, not just formal networking events. After all, as she says, life is just one big networking opportunity—a notion readers can now embrace.
In 1984 a New York Times Survey on Social Anxiety placed death third in the list of people’s biggest fears. The top two responses were walking into a room full of strangers and speaking in public.
Facing these two fears head on, ‘…and death came third!’ rocketed straight to Number Two on the Amazon UK bestseller lists on publication of its First Edition in 2006. Since then thousands of people have turned to its pages to help them network and present with much more confidence.
Written by the renowned networker and connector Andy Lopata.
Whether you’re a networking superstar already, or aspire to be one, this infographic will remind you of the 10 basic business networking tips.
What would you add? Leave a comment and tell us.
If you like this infographic, please pin it onto your business networking tips board on Pinterest.
One of the first things people are going to do when you are business networking is check out your social media profiles. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you are providing a consistent image, current information and you at least look a bit like your LinkedIn photo!
To make sure your profiles are professional and are portraying the image you want, include all the following elements:
Never leave the generic, faceless shadow on your profile. People are much more likely to connect with you when there’s a face put to the name. Also, many people will ONLY connect with you if they can see your face. Cartoons are fine if you’re self-conscious, but people will only take you seriously when they look into your eyes.
Most social sites have a space for a brief “tag line” where you can state your title, business, or other statement that describes you in just a few words. Make sure this pithy sentence is geared for your target prospects. Using keywords will also help people find you.
Include more detailed information about your skills, background, experience, etc. in the appropriate places in your profile. This is your opportunity to explain that tag line and show off a bit, so make the most of it. In some sites, like LinkedIn, you can even add media to your profiles, such as videos and slideshare presentations.
Don’t forget to include information on how people can get in touch with you. Include your preferred contact methods, such as phone, email, website, Skype, address, etc. If you have both a professional and personal blog, you can include both so that people can learn more about you.
If you have contact preferences, state those to. No one wishes to get off on the wrong foot when making contact with you, so make sure you express how you like to be contacted.
If you’re using a network like LinkedIn, take advantage of their Recommendations and Endorsements features. Ask a few select customers and colleagues to write short recommendations for you. Give them a little guidance on what type of recommendation you need so that they have some ideas. It will make it easier for them to write it, and you’re more likely to get a recommendation that will help your networking goals.
Review all your major social media profiles on a regular basis to keep them up to date and consistent. This is especially important if you change jobs or start a new business. It’s also important to keep an up to date photo, so if yours is 10 years old, it’s time to take a new one!
Business Networking is an investment, not a collection of phone numbers.
Just one faux pas during your business networking can leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth that loses you dozens of potential connections. Relationships take work and nurturing, whether they’re personal or business. Make the time to take care of the little things and you’ll soon earn a reputation for professionalism and courtesy that people respect.
You’ll find when this happens, your connections will refer to you all the time, and they start the right kind of conversation, which is just what you’re looking for!
Never give someone the name and number of one of your contacts without asking that person first. Instead, you can say something like, “I know someone who might be able to help you. Let me ask her if it’s ok to give you her name and get back to you.”
If it’s okay with your contact, create a proper introduction, via email or LinkedIn message. This gives your contacts the opportunity to arrange a mutually beneficial time to have a chat. Remember to follow up with them both, to make sure it was both the correct referral and to gain feedback.
Don’t walk into a networking event looking like a slob, unless that’s the image you want to portray. If you’re not sure of the appropriate attire, dress a little bit nicer rather than more casually. Sure, there are plenty of people who say “come as you are”, and “be yourself” but they don’t mean it. Human beings are visual people, they expect neat and tidy dress.
If you said you’ll introduce someone to one of your contacts, make sure you follow-up with the name and number after checking with that person. If you promised to send someone information about another event, make a note to send it.
So many people make promises and never deliver, you’ll soon stand out if you follow up.
Speaking to someone on the phone is less time-consuming than an email, but it still requires an appointment. Send an email or message via social media first to request a call, and be open to them saying no.
Even if you haven’t made specific commitments to your new contacts, you need to make an effort to stay visible and develop those relationships. Connect on social media, comment on their blogs, send holiday cards (virtual or physical) and drop them a note from time to time on Linkedin.
As part of your follow-up, make sure you thank everyone who provided the slightest tip, name, advice, or other helpful piece of information. Tailor your thank-you based on the person and the help offered. You might send a private message on LinkedIn, a formal thank-you card, or even just a tweet. Expressing thanks shows what a thoughtful person you are, and you become memorable.
Use your common sense in all your business networking. If you wouldn’t behave that way amongst family, don’t do it when you’re networking!
What would you add to this business networking 101?
One of the benefits of networking with people face-to-face vs. online is that you can gauge their reactions and get a “read” on them. At the same time, they can do the same with you. You only have the one chance to make that all-important first impression; it’s already made before you even lean in and introduce yourself. If you’re an introvert, feel shy, or don’t like groups of people, business networking can seem like your own personal hell.
This article will share with you the 4 areas of body language and how to master them for effective networking, even if you’re petrified inside!
Here are four of the most important components of body language that you need to pay attention to when you’re networking for business:
If there is no other body language you focus on, it should be eye contact. The best networkers use their eyes to communicate the feeling that you are the person they are most interested in at that moment. Never let your eyes drift to other people in the room, as if you’re looking for someone better to talk to, or be constantly looking over someone’s shoulder to see if there’s someone you’d rather talk to instead.
Even if you are nervous, look at the person you are talking to. Not in a serial killer, or teenage infatuation can’t take your eyes off of them way but in a normal, I’m interested in what you say kind of way.
Practice having a conversation with a friend, preferably in a room full of people, and ask them for feedback afterward on what your eye contact felt like. Did they feel as if you were not fully engaged? Did they feel like you were “staring them down?” Feedback on eye contact is important, you don’t want to send the wrong message yet you don’t want to appear disinterested.
Did your mother ever tell you to stand up straight? The way you stand can communicate how open you are to being approached, your energy level, your professionalism, and even the way you were brought up.
Make sure you do stand up straight, but not as if you’re on parade. You want to appear open and friendly, not rigid and formal. If you slouch, you may look tired or unenthusiastic. If you’re tired, take a seat, and if your heels are killing you, slip them off under the table.
Find a happy medium where you stand up straight with your shoulders back, far enough away from the other person to allow personal space, and with a sense of energy and purpose.
Waving not drowning? How do you know? Gestures and where you put your hands when you’re not using them are both elements of body language that communicate different things. Waving your arms around while you talk may seem to portray excitement, but it can also be distracting for the other person who won’t know where to look.
Putting your hands in your back pockets may be more casual and comfortable, but it can also look unprofessional. Crossing your arms is also a big no-no in many circles since it communicates a resistance to new ideas.
You may be completely unaware of your common gestures, so ask a friend to pay attention to them during a practice conversation.
People will be looking at your face more than anywhere else, so be careful of your facial expressions. If you frown at what someone is saying, they will immediately assume you disagree or disapprove. Worse, someone may capture that on camera or see it from across the room.
Mona Lisa had it right. Keeping a slight smile on your face is a good habit to practice no matter what situation you’re in. It makes you look warm and friendly – like someone that others would like to meet – and if you are caught on film from across the room, the photo can’t be misinterpreted.
Now you’ve mastered your body language, book onto the next 1230 TWC meeting and see how effective it is.
PS If you find networking difficult, you will love the 1230 TWC meetings. These take place over lunch, are pressure free and filled with smart women like you
It happened on 11 November 2013.
I opened an email sending me a voice message from a fairly new friend of ours, in fact, she was the 12 year old daughter of my son’s new girlfriend. We’d sent her a birthday card so it was nice to think she’d got in touch The spelling of her name wasn’t quite the same – let’s say her name was Lia and the email message spelt it “Lya” – not knowing her long I assumed I’d spelt it incorrectly. On clicking the message nothing appeared, so maybe it hadn’t saved correctly. The phone ringing distracted me and as I was talking a small red box flashed at the bottom of my screen. Still distracted I clicked on the box, nothing happened. A few moments later, my screen was filled with a large red box stating that all my files had been encrypted by Cryptolocker – an exceptionally nasty piece of ransomeware.
This virus was so new that I’d been hit in their first UK targets. You might think as an IT trainer I should know better than to open a message like this, and I’d agree, normally. The total coincidence of the name just blinded me into a false sense of security.
Why is Cryptolocker exceptionally nasty? It encrypts EVERYTHING on your computer. And then demands that you pay $300 for the files to be released. Not only that, but any attached external drives, eg, usb / hard drive, would also have been included in the attack. I have an incremental remote back-up. Guess what, yes, it encrypted those files too!
To say I was in despair was an understatement. My entire 13 years of business had been encrypted. And in case you’re in any doubt, the files I could open were lines of complete mumbo jumbo. I researched on the Net. If I paid up, as a police department in USA had done, how did I know these villains would release my files? After 70 days they’d destroy my files if I didn’t pay up. The next stage in their master plan was to up the anti after 70 days and, providing details of a Bitcoin account demanded $2,000 for the files safe return!!!
The incremental remote back-up. I spotted that the back-up company could restore 30 day deleted files. So I got in touch, maybe, just maybe….. Yes, based in America, they knew about Cryptolocker and were frantically working to help their clients. They thought that they could help me. On 3 separate occasions they phoned me, talked me through and remotely accessed my machine to restore my files. Not all the files were saved, but the majority were. They didn’t charge me one extra $ / £ to do this – the annual charge for the back-up was then, just $54. The company? Carbonite. And I shall be forever thankful for their help in saving my business and my sanity.
So, beware. There are very clever, but equally nasty people out there. Make sure your anti-virus software is always up-to-date, buy the best you can afford, and don’t be lulled into a false sense of security as I was. Not everything is as it seems on the Internet. Think once, think twice, think 3 times and then run that email/attachment manually through your updated anti-virus software.
I manage my own diary, but increasingly many of my contacts now have someone who does this for them. In an earlier life, I’ve been a PA and managed diaries. I’m curious as to how up-to-date today’s “diary owner” is with the arrangements. It feels very different. Sometimes I feel as though the person I’m meeting / having a phone call / Skype with is totally detached from any of these “behind the scenes” arrangements – I appreciate that is the general idea to some extent! Recently I’ve been blown-out again by someone who I met, we agreed would be good to have a follow-up coffee / conversation, it then got down to a Skype call as she’s too busy for a meet. On the last arranged time, I got an email from the diary manager, at the time of our arranged Skype to say meetings had overrun and she’d be in touch with alternative dates. She and I originally met end April. Busy lady!
So this set me wondering. If you manage someone else’s diary – how does this work for you? Do you get told about overruns last minute? If someone manages your diary for you, how do they keep you up-to-date with your movements. Do you touch base with the arranged person at all, or is it all managed by the “diary manager”. I’m genuinely interested to know.
Actually, I lurve Mondays!
Let’s look at Bank Holiday Mondays. She Who Bakes, the delightfully inspiring Britt Whyatt recently posted on Facebook “Oh good, a bank holiday!” said no self-employed person, ever.” I tend to take extended weekend holidays, rather than 2-3 week holidays, so I play with the Bank Holiday; I may not do any business work at all, I may do a little, I may work all day, or I may play all day, but it’s mine to do with what I want. Mostly!
So, what prompted this missive? There’s another reason I particularly like Mondays, or this week, Tuesdays. I have a very dear chum, who, subject to her diary, if I’m lucky will phone me on her journey from home to her office. The conversations are not without challenges. In-between dips and humps in the road the signal fades and then vanishes just at that crucial part of the conversation; sometimes we put the world to rights but mostly it’s about how we are both personally and in business, what we’ve been doing and what we’ll be doing, with some fun and laughter. Sometimes these conversations get cut short mid-stream, ending on a serious note with food for thought or equally it can end on a high fun note, either way, I greatly value this start to my working day!
Yes, I love Mondays (and Tuesdays)!!
How about you? Do you have a chum who phones you for a chat like this?
Well that’s what happened today. Four people were booked in for a training session, three dropped out at short notice, variety of reasons, all sounded legit. That left one and me as trainer – that’s fine, great 1:1 session coming up.
Arrived at training venue, staff not expecting us, ok after seeing my confirming email except that the booked room was full of unmoveable machinery. (That’s two, by the way). No problem… handy café nearby would suit our purpose. Staff very happy to have us. Order drinks, delegate goes to treat me only to find that she’s left her purse in the car! That’s three!
Well dear reader – you won’t be surprised to find that a great 1:1 training session followed! That’s life!