Conversation is a layer that will make the other person want to know you. Their interest in you will make you comfortable.
You went to the networking event to meet people and get business and you think business is what you should be talking to people right off the bat. Wrong. Do not do it. The number one reason people do not get business at networking events is because they hand over a business card and talk about what they do before they have a conversation.
The more I read Wendy Kinney’s book (‘Networking Aerobics’), the more I am blown away by how much little things, that many of us do backwards at networking mixers matter.
Listen to this: just like it is important for romantically involved couple to have their first fight and recover from it before they have sex (in that particular order – first fight-recovery-sex, reversing it dooms the relationship), the same way when you first meet people it’s essential to show them, you are interested in them personally as a person, not a prospective paying client, before you give them a card or talk about business.
People do business with people. If you don’t find out what you have in common before you talk about business it dooms the relationship. You will miss a lot of business if you don’t find out what you have in common with the person in front of you first.
Don’t ask questions that are way too personal – even if you think that what you’ve got will help them with whatever issue you think they might have. Stick to ‘have you been to this mixer before?’, ‘are you new in town?’, ‘where are you originally from?’, ask them if they have children and ask questions about children. Ask them about their vacation plans. It is much easier to follow up when you know what you have in common – many times it creates a reason for follow up.
Once you find out at a big sales meeting or a convention for instance (because this technique works everywhere) that your grandparents and the other person’s grandparents where from the same little town, it will be much easier for you to invite them for lunch and start building that relationship even further, wouldn’t it?
If the person you are having a conversation with keeps talking about themselves (way beyond 6 minute max you planned to have per conversation) or if they have nothing to say, stick your hand out, say ‘Nice to meet you’ and go find someone else.
Network. The purpose of a conversation is to find a credible reason to make a second contact. Go for business now and it’s all over. Make a personal connection and you can make money.
It is profitable for you now to ask what they do.