Depending on your comfort level, networking can be a nasty chore evoking visions of awkward conversations and rampant business card flinging. Shake it off. This is not war, it is networking. You can improve your experience at a networking function or any social function, for that matter, if you lead with a more opportunistic conversation starter other than “What do you do?”
On the surface, that over-used question appears to be a good starting point, but in practice it can come off as unnatural and abrasive. Networking events, like other social events, are opportunities to make connections but, frequently, we are too self-focused to make the most of them. Common reasons for attending a networking event include obtaining a new client, connecting with a supplier or cultivating a reputation – all good things. Unfortunately our agenda, when executed poorly, transforms us into prospectors. What should you do instead?
While it’s important to be intentional about the event, it’s even more important to be authentic. Authenticity is a core building block for strong relationships. Imagine how different your experience could be if you made authentic connections with people rather than qualifying them and moving on to the next lead. Remember, relationships take time.
Consider one of these five questions before asking “What Do You Do?”
- What have you found helpful about attending this event?
- What changes have you seen in your industry in the last few years?
- Are you looking to meet a particular person?
- What do you love most about what you do?
- How can I help you?
Want help crafting your message or introduction? Join us at WOMMM (Word of Mouth Marketing Machine). Enter special guest code (free2014) to get a complimentary ticket to this signature training.