8 Things You Need to Know Before Your Next Networking EventCategory: Personal Development
Identify a trigger. Find something that you can comment about, something they are wearing or a jester they made – a gentleman wearing a remarkable tie or pin, or a woman wearing an eye catching color or unique piece of jewelry. Chances are they are not wearing these things by chance; they are more than likely offering you a conversation starter. Conversely you can wear or carry something unusual to give others a reason to approach you.
If you notice a fellow attendee scanning the beverage condiments holding a cup of coffee offer to help him find what he is looking for, and be prepared to continue to spark a discussion. Or ask for his opinion about the hors d’oeuvre that you are considering trying.
Ask for an introduction. Ask the host to refresh your memory about the person across the room who looks familiar but whose name you can’t seem to remember. Find out about his job, interests, hobbies or something that you can use to begin a conversation.
Be interested in their home town. Eventually one of you will ask “where are you from?” Never give a one sentence answer since this person obviously wants to connect. Give him an engaging fact or witty reflection to hook the asker into a conversation.
Expound on the question, “What do you do?” Don’t give a one word answer. Give an interesting, positive fact about your job. Not to impress, but to continue the conversation.
Keep the conversation positive. Reading about the news of the day was once a good idea before attending a networking event. Recently most of it is negative and since not many successful people enjoy participating in negative conversations with strangers find your conversation from other sources such as topics about travel, recreation, biographies or the latest business book or white paper.
How to resuscitate a dying conversation. Inevitably there will come a moment when the topic has seemed to run course, perhaps your conversation partner has made a comment that seems to divert the conversation. This is not necessarily so. Listen for clues. Listen for any references. What may seem like a digression from the conversation or seemingly irrelevant invocation of another place, time or subject, may actually be a clue to what your conversation partner would really enjoy discussing.
You don’t need to find common ground immediately. Conversation may seem easier when two people have something in common, but you may not find common ground instantly. The trick is to be enthusiastic about what they share anyway. Your message to them should be, “That sounds interesting, Tell me more!” Everyone enjoys talking about themselves and their experiences and you can get them to share by asking “what” “where” “how” and “when” questions.
How to be a modern day Renaissance man or woman. The boarder your experiences or knowledge the longer you can keep a stranger involved in a conversation with you. Expand your knowledge through television. There are enough cable and satellite channels to get you around the world, meet the most fascinating people and explore the most talked about industries in one weekend. Between the Travel Channel, Wealth TV, CNN Presents, CNN specials, several Bloomberg series, National Geographic Channel and the Science Channel you can expand your knowledge without leaving your home town if necessary.
Make having a conversation with you easy, not by doing all of the talking but by sharing enough information to allow them to participate and feel comfortable.