How often have you been to a networking event where attendees are talking at other people — talking only about themselves and trying to cram into the conversation as much as they can about their own business, achievements, and successes, etc?
Not only is this unpleasant for the listener, but it is actually counter-productive.
Why are you at the networking event? To get business? Make a sale? Well, not really. Your goal at networking events should be to begin conversations that lead to relationships. If that does not happen, there will be no sales. Period! Because people buy from people they like.
The most important thing is to let the other person do the talking, and to listen carefully for ways to help that person achieve his or her goals. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it is the key to the entire process. Your goal in networking should be to give before you get. Giving before you get makes it much more likely that the other person will want to talk with you further (and that’s the best hope for business in the future). Giving may include
- Business or personal suggestions
- Volunteering to help with a civic organization or charity the other party feels strongly about or
- A piece of free counsel on a subject of interest to your conversation partner
So, as you network, focus on building relationships:
- First: Ask questions to find out as much as possible about the other person.
- Take time to listen to your conversation partners.
- Offer something useful to each person you talk with.
Follow these steps, and you will be on your way to conversations that begin to build relationships that lead to sales.