Monday, November 19, 2007

Want to be a better Networker? 5 Key Questions to Start a Conversation

I network a lot. I meet interesting people from all walks of life. Entrepreneurs starting businesses, independent professionals looking for leads, and established business owners taking time out of their busy schedules to meet new people.

One thing many networkers have in common is that they find conversing with new contacts awkward. They're never quite sure what to say. Do they ask about their prospect's business? Do they ask about their family? They may find themselves bumbling through a series of questions that don't add value until they walk away thinking "Get me out of here."

My goal for this post is to help you feel more comfortable when networking. If you are more at ease, you'll be more likely to have fun, meet interesting people, and promote your business at the same time.

First a few DON’T's
Don't expect to attend an event once and get tons of business.
Don't talk about yourself. Turn the conversation back to the other party even if they ask about you.
Don't be a poor listener. This means you should show that you are listening by nodding agreement, adding a few words of encouragement, and asking more questions.
Don't look around for greener pastures. Give the person in front of you your full attention.

The truth is networking doesn't have to be difficult. The key to networking success is getting to know people and being helpful, likeable, and sincere. You remember the old saying "People do business with those they know, like, and trust."

So the question is: How do you handle the networking conversation so that you become someone who is likeable and sincere?

You ask questions about the other person! Here are five questions you can memorize to keep the conversation moving:

1. How did you get into this line of work?
2. What do you like most about what you do?
3. Tell me about your Ideal Client.
4. So, describe what a good lead would be for you?
5. What's the most challenging part of your business?

Memorize these five questions. Use them when you network. You'll never feel awkward again. For more  helpful tips, here's an article I wrote Four Ways to Be a Better Networker.

Here's to your networking success!

Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

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