What do you wish to accomplish as you speak during your networking activities?
Your immediate goal should be to learn about the other person, not to sell your products or services. During your networking conversations, ask questions, listen and do not interrupt others with stories, opinions, solutions, or personal experiences.
Here are some questions to ask your conversation partners (with a smiling and warm disposition) to start and maintain meaningful conversations:
- What are the most important things you’re working on right now?
- What do you want to accomplish this year?
- What are the biggest barriers to meeting your goals?
- What can I do to help you achieve these goals?
Asking questions and truly listening to the answers will help build a relationship and will let the other person know that you are interested in giving, not just getting.
And don’t forget the power of silence; don’t be in a rush to “fill in” the pauses in a conversation! Let your conversation partners’ rhythm guide you, and remember that giving time to people is like giving them a gift.
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!
And have fun!