What wins at Wimbledon wins at your local chamber. Watch a tennis match; the goal is to make contact with the ball and knock it back over the net! In tennis if the ball remains on one side of the net too long, there is a greater chance it will dribble off to the side and the opponent will score the point. In networking conversations, the same is true. The longer you are talking the greater the risk your listener will become bored. And just as the ball will roll off the court, so will your business opportunity.
So How Do You Win a Networking Volley? – Keep the image of a tennis match in your mind and use questions to “return the serve.” Almost any open ended question will keep the conversations rolling. Here are a few of my favorites: What do you do? – How did you get started? – What is the most interesting project or customer you have worked with recently? – Who would you like to meet? Use these questions to gain a sense of their business, key clients, and to identify points of common interest.
Don’t Sell at a Networking Event – Many people make the mistake of trying to “sell” at a networking event. People can tell when you are in selling mode, and will try to end the conversation quickly. When you are in selling mode, you are more likely to keep talking and miss the cues which will help you identify the very best prospects. Networking conversations are introductory conversations; the more you learn about the other person in a short conversation, the easier it will be to decide if this is someone with whom you want to have a longer conversation! In networking if you can really make a great connection; you’ve won the match.
Want to learn more about networking? Order a copy of Confessions of a Networking Junkie by Lorraine Ball