And now, maybe worse, as networking events that are getting going again, after a long break.
Most of us have been there: a room full of people in front of us, prospects everywhere, and we can’t think of a word to say.
And, more often than not, refuge is found with a glass of wine. We might in the course of the event collect a few business cards. But usually, once we have finished our complimentary glass of wine, we find an excuse to leave.
We may even be spotted by a friendly fellow networker who introduces themselves. But after asking a couple of easy opening questions and getting just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for answers they decide that there are more interesting things going on almost anywhere else in the room.
Well, if this picture is even a little like you, it doesn’t have to be. A few ready made questions and answers will soon have you networking just like everyone else seems to be in the room. But, first of all let me assure you that you are not the only person feeling as you do. Many will be, it’s just that you are all circulating the room and smiling at all that pass you by!
So, how about that first easy question? Everyone asks it. ‘How’s business?’ Your answer might be, ‘Fine’ or maybe, ‘Oh, we are really busy’. The trouble with those answers is that it doesn’t really leave you anywhere to progress to. The answer may as well be, ‘That’s great!’
But, how about, if instead, you answered, ‘Really great! We have just finished a large project for our biggest client. We had to turn it around in record time, and I’m now looking for a similar job.’ The next comment is likely to be, ‘Tell me more’.
The secret is to have a few answers planned in advance: answers that are not only interesting in themselves but that invite another question. Then once the conversation starts and you begin to relax you never know where things might lead. You may just find your next big customer and don’t forget you can use that same great answer for more than one person.
However, sometimes you have to make the first move and again this is easy if you have a few ready prepared questions up your sleeve. Start by scanning the room and finding someone much like you on their own, looking a little lost. Go up to them and introduce yourself using just your first name and ask them theirs. Then follow up with one of your prepared questions.
Why not try one of the following or make up your own with similar ideas?
1) How did they hear about the event and do they know the host?
2) Did they come to the event for a special reason?
3) What is it that they do?
4) How long have they been doing that?
5) What made them choose that line of work?
6) What’s the best thing about what they do?
7) What kind of business are they looking for?
8) Is there anyone that you might know that they would like to be introduced to (this person might even be at the event)?
9) Who is their biggest competitor?
10) How many people work with them?
All these questions need more than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer and also the answers will tell you something about the person, their company, and if you want to start a relationship with them.
Remember, the objective at a networking event is the start of a relationship, your next meeting, not a quick sale.
So, never be lost for words at a networking event again and you will see that there is no need to feel on your own, as instead you may be starting lasting and worthwhile connections with the people that you meet.