Topics of Conversation to Avoid:
- Politics and religion (unless your views are similar)
- Kids (unless you both have them and want to talk about them)
- Intimate details of your personal life or theirs
Have a good introduction – Introductions, establish your credentials and tell others what makes you or your company interesting or unique. Keep it short, simple, and memorable – a good introduction will be 20 seconds or less.
Address people by their name – addressing people by name not only allows you to remember it, but it also creates a positive, friendly feeling. When someone remembers and says our name, we feel flattered. If you cannot remember someone’s name, the best thing to do is confess, say something like, “Im sorry, could you please tell me your name again.” Do this before you get too far in the conversation. Or remove yourself from the conversation as soon as possible.
Greetings – Really good networkers always say, “nice to see you” or “great to see you”, to avoid the awkward and embarrassing problem of saying “nice to meet you” and already have met them before.
Be Genuine – People do business with those they know and trust. Being genuine helps to develop a rapport.
Best Places to Network
Some people say your network is always on. While this is true, there are certain times and places where it is more appropriate to network. Some social events, such as an alumni meeting, give you the ‘permission to network’ while other social events, such as an intimate house party, does not. You never want to be too abrasive that you rub people the wrong way.
Join organizations that give you ‘permission to network’ such as.
- Church events
- Charity events
- Political campaigns
- Community events
- Work events
One of the most important things you can do to network is to go to events. Accept invitations, host your own events, buy tickets to events, just make sure you show up to as many as possible. Your first instinct should be to say ‘yes’ to things. This will allow you to establish a good reputation and be well respected.
Many people expect immediate results when they network and it just doesn’t work that way. Just showing up to events doesn’t guarantee anything. It takes time to build relationships. Instead of being discouraged saying, “I didn’t meet anyone worthwhile.” You should ask yourself, ‘What did my contacts gain from meeting me?’
In order to develop a worthwhile connection with someone, you need ongoing follow-up. This can be done by adding them to your Linkedin or other social networking profile, or by continuing to go to similar events. Here you can get reacquainted. Follow-up is a slow and steady process; a lot of patience is required. It’s not something you can force.
Holidays are a good way to follow-up with someone. It’s a ‘permission to follow-up’ occasion.
If you immediately hit it off with someone, you don’t have to wait for the next function to see them again. Invite them out to lunch. If you’ve initiated the invitation, it is customary to pay. This is also a way future engagements happen – the other person will likely want to treat you next time.
Don’t beat a dead horse. If your follow-up email goes unreplied, don’t continue to harass them. Before sending communication to a budding acquaintance, ask yourself, “Is what I am about to send going to add any value to this busy person’s life?”