It’s not easy approaching a total stranger and striking up a conversation.
On a street corner, it may be weird. Sometimes.
But, at an event like a cocktail party, golf outing, association meeting, conference, convention, trade show, or product show, the ability to introduce yourself and have a fun, intelligent, and relevant conversation is important. Real important!
Especially if recruiting, writing a case, getting an account, landing a deal, learning about an opportunity, generating a referral, establishing a prospect, or building important business relationships is important to you.
Starting a conversation with strangers (remember, mom told us not to talk to strangers) can definitely be difficult in business settings but it’s much easier if you create the proper context.
A few of these business networking reminders may help:
1. Networking is about learning and helping.
That’s it. Learning about their product, service, industry, profession, market segment, and niche. If you’re sincere, likeable, open, and have a great product or service to offer, the people you meet may become interested in you. Then you can figure out how to help one another. That’s networking!
2. Everyone you meet does not need your product and service.
Just because you think they do doesn’t make it so. And your job is not to convince those you meet at an event that they need your product. Most people don’t like that. Why? Because their focus is promoting and ultimately selling their own product or service. Again, help them and they may help you right back.
3. Ask great opening questions.
About them. About the event. About their company. Prospects. Customers. Clients. Referral sources. Objectives. Experiences. Plans for the future. Favorite color. Sports team. Whatever. Show a genuine interest. Especially if you feel a good connection with them. If there is, generally after responding to your questions, you might be asked, “How about yourself?” And that’s where the magic starts. I think they call that a conversation.