“Business is personal, and even the biggest deals, orders, projects, sales, promotions and contracts come down to two or more people making a connection.”
Some people can enter a room and effortlessly begin a conversation with anyone. They seem to be networking naturals, blessed with an abundance of people skills and natural charisma. But that’s not everyone. Indeed, don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you’re a bit uncomfortable in networking situations, that’s just you.
Most people struggle with walking into a room full of strangers. After all, where do you start? What do you say? How do you get around the room and get away from the wrong people if you need to?
For most of us, we need to put some work into making the most of networking. It’s hard to get away from the need to build meaningful, trusted connections, much of which is done face to face at a range of business networking events. It’s probably because networking requires a little effort that they call it networking rather than netEATING or netDRINKING. You’ve got to work at it to make it count!
In this third blog post in a special networking series on working the room (Part 1 and Part 2), let’s go over 6 more top tips for successfully working a room of business people. That way you’ll more confidently and effectively be able to raise your profile, have some good conversations and hopefully create some opportunities to do business.
- Be Interested in Others
The phrase ‘working a room’ sounds rather aggressive and self-seeking, but remember that sustainable business success is not about exploitation but building relationships for mutual benefit. If you are pushy and launch into a sales pitch before you’ve established a relationship, you’ll soon be shunned at networking events. And if you have no conversations, you’ll have no relationships, no opportunities and no business. So make sure you are more interested in helping than selling, and doing more listening than talking.
- Be Patient
Building relationships through networking is a long-term game. New contacts are unlikely to spill the beans on all their needs and write you a cheque until they’ve got to know you, trust you and understand what you have to offer. Besides, they might not have a need right now – but they may have in six months’ time. So the aim is to get to know people, and get them to know you, so when they do have a need you are ‘front of mind’ and the first one they come to. That’s why maintaining relationships at networking events is just as important as meeting new people.
- Approach Strangers
You can’t be a wallflower. You have to be pro-active to be a good networker. Don’t worry – strangers expect to be approached. This is a networking event, after all! Nobody goes there to be alone. Nobody attends these events for some quiet time or ‘to get away from people’. Everyone wants to be talking to someone, so you can make yourself a friend instantly by giving people just that – someone to talk to. Just by going up to someone and saying your name (Hi, I’m Rob) is a great conversation starter. Try it!
- Be Polite
Those little words like ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘excuse me’ make a big difference. If you are rude or inconsiderate, you won’t win many friends. People only do business with their friends, not with their enemies. Introduce people where possible. Remember people’s names when you can, and use them. Be well-mannered and you’ll make a phenomenal first impression.
- Know How to Exit
If you’re feeling trapped and bored in a conversation, guess what the other person is feeling? Don’t prolong the agony for either of you. Be the first to make a move and exit your conversation graciously. One way to do this is by inviting them to get a drink or some food with you. In the process of moving to the drinks or food table, you may bump into other people on the way and naturally begin talking to others. Alternatively, express your apologies and say you’ve spotted someone you promised to speak to and you don’t want to let them down. Then thank the person for talking with you, say it was nice to meet them, and leave.
- Use Good Questions
In my training workshops I go through my special Formula for Turning Relationships Into Profits:
“Great questions lead to great conversations, which lead to great relationships, which lead to great opportunities, which lead to great business.”
It’s one of my favourite sayings, because it works! Having already prepared some questions, make sure you use them to develop the small talk and build rapport. This also generates trust and makes people feel more comfortable around you. After a short while you can then gradually introduce some business talk. Having a few good questions to ask in advance gives you the confidence that you can always move a conversation forward if you need to. This is something that all the good networkers can do.
So that concludes this 3 part series on face to face networking. Follow all these simple guidelines for working a room and you’ll soon find yourself being more confident, effective and productive at working a room. People will think you’re a natural. You’ll know it’s because you took a little time to ‘up your game’ and make yourself better! And that’s why with your networking, you’ll soon be Turning Relationships Into Profits.
To take your networking to the next level, put some clear water between you and your competition and prepare more thoroughly for networking events, you should join the Networking Coaching Academy. You get lots of useful tips, hints and strategies to build and leverage powerful connections, and right now, it’s free! So tap into the world’s #1 business networking training platform and check out everything you need to become a much more confident, strategic and effective networker.
Simply Click here and hit the big green GET STARTED HERE button to get your special username and password. You can then access 100+ videos, 72+ expert interviews and some great resources to make you a more accomplished business networker and connector. Happy networking!
Latest posts by Rob Brown (see all)
- Networking Tips – How to Work a Room (Part 2) by Rob Brown - June 22, 2018
- Networking Tips – How to Work a Room (Part 1) by Rob Brown - March 23, 2018
- Networking Tips – How to Work a Room (Part 3) by Rob Brown - September 14, 2015