When networking, your aim is to meet new people or reinforce old relationships. It’s all about the relationship, helping it to grow and making it deeper. You’re not there to sell or just hand out business cards. You are there to get people to know, like and trust you. If you act like a nincompoop, that will never happen. You want to let your new contact know that you are interested in him and his business and you want to give.
Ivan Mizner calls it ‘Givers Gain’. Eventually you do gain. But only if you give first and give authentically. You give because you want to help, because two people you introduce could find real value and you have the opportunity to make it happen, because you’re a good and caring person. When they do get to know, like and trust you, opportunities will flow your way.
So what do you talk about? You ask them questions. Sure you might say a sentence or less when they ask what you do. But mostly it’s you asking them questions. Bob Burg in his book Endless Referrals provides this list of Feel Good Questions®. Don’t forget to listen.
- How did you get your start in the widget business? (no, don’t actually say widget, substitute the person’s business)
- What do you enjoy most about your profession?
- What separates you and your company from the competition?
- What advice would you give somebody just getting started in the widget business?
- What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?
- What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?
- What do you see as the coming trends in the widget business?
- Describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business.
- What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business?
- What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business?
You’ll probably only be able to ask 2 or 3 in any one networking conversation. If you want to extend the conversation about any one area, you can say, ‘tell me more.’ You can also use the echo technique where you repeat back the last 3 or 4 words with a question mark in your voice. Then the other person takes it where he left off.
Here is the ultimate question you want to ask even if you can’t ask more than one of the Feed Good Questions®.
How can I know if someone I’m speaking to is a good prospect for you or is someone you’d like to meet?
You can also ask FORM questions.
M Message about what they deem important
The key is to listen intently and really care. Asking good questions to get the conversation going will earn respect and warm wishes. You can’t ask for more.