Networking Power Tips – 10 Productive Trade Show Tactics

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I still remember my first trade show experience. It felt like I was walking the gauntlet with caged animals on either side trying to get at me. Ok, so I say this in jest, but it does sometimes feel like this.

Trade shows are usually busy, pressure-packed events. There is a limited amount of time and a lot to see. You can maximize your return on invested time if you follow these tips:

1.Have clear, written objectives. Most trade shows have hundreds of vendors and booths. Invest time before arriving to decide which have the highest potential for you and list the reasons you are attending the show.

2. Have a product positioning statement. Communicating effectively in this fast-paced environment is essential. Prepare a short statement that identifies your target market, the top benefit of your product/service and the result of doing business with you.

3. Meet, greet & move on. Trade show networking is not conducive to long conversations. Your dialogue needs to be focused, short and to the point. Be prepared to exchange a few sentences, get a business card and move on.

4. Have 3 success stories. You will be meeting new contacts as well as renewing old ones. Be prepared to answer “What’s new?” Have a success story about you, about your company and your business.

5. Have 3 questions. As you meet others, you will have the opportunity to find out information. Be prepared to ask “What’s new?” and make it easier for them by specifically asking about them, their company and their business.

6. Carry breath mints. You will be spending a lot of time talking with a lot of people up close and personal. Because so much depends on your first impression, keep breath mints handy. It’s not if you’ll need them but when you’ll need them. (Others will too!).

7. Get business cards. You will never be able to remember all the people, faces and names. It’s essential that you get a business card when talking with others. Develop a specific location to store incoming cards so you don’t hand them out by mistake.

8. Write info down. Because it will be difficult, if not impossible, to remember specifics about conversations ask permission to write on a person’s card while you’re speaking with them. It will make your follow up much easier.

9. Carry extra cards. One of the most common mistakes at trade shows is to run out of business cards. Bring extra and hand out a couple to each contact. If you run out, ask for your contact’s card and write your information on it.

10. Timely follow up. As soon as you can after the show, sit down with your business cards, and organize and prioritize your contacts. Make follow up calls within 48 hours of the show to maximize your return on invested time.

Want to get better at maximizing your next trade show? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults. to receive a free copy of my Trade Show Tactics Executive Summary.


Michael J. Hughes is a recognized authority on utilizing networking as a business strategy. To find out more about him, or to have him present at your next meeting or conference, contact him at his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

12 Benefits of Starting Your Own Networking Group.

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You’re sick and tired of attending events where others run the show. You’ve tried the pay-for-play referral groups around town and have found them to be more about the few who run the show than about helping you achieve more success.

How can you use networking as a business or career growth strategy that works for you? It’s simple: start your own group. Here’s a dozen reasons why this can be a huge step in accelerating your results.

1. Increase your business. The simple fact of bringing together a number of prospects, be they colleagues or clients, will offer you opportunity to exponentially generate more revenues by being in front of more people at one time.

2. Get others to refer you business. When you bring others together, they appreciate your efforts. They will want to return the favor you have done for them. One of the ways they will do this is by recommending you to others.

3. Position yourself as a leader. Acting as the catalyst in creating the group, you position yourself as a leader. The members of the group automatically respect you and have a higher level of trust in you.

4. Increase your value to others. When the members of your group come together, they will meet new contacts and make new friends. They will associate these great feelings with you and feel you have brought them value.

5. Improve the perception of your professionalism. Your efforts in creating and managing the group will have others perceive you differently. You will be seen as a qualified professional who cares about others.

6. Build trust in others more quickly. Your position as a leader brings with it a number of unconscious qualities. One of the most powerful is trust. Others will trust you more as you contribute to their lives and their success.

7. Have others better realize your level of expertise about your product or service. In leading your group, you will cause others to become more aware of your expertise. This realization will extend to their perception of your products and services. They will see them differently just as they see you differently.

8. Better leverage existing relationships. Bringing together existing contacts, colleagues and clients acts as a leverage factor and heightens feelings of value and service about you. They will then go out of their way to be of service to you in return.

9. More quickly leverage new relationships. As you offer new contacts the opportunity to participate in your group, they will feel more trustworthy and indebted. This is one of the most powerful ways to build relationships.

10. Market yourself to more people in a shorter period of time. As members join and bring their colleagues and contacts into the group, you will find that you are, by default, marketing to more people with one activity.

11. Find more ways to help others. As a result of interacting with more people within the group, you will have more options available to help others. You will have access to more resources, support and opportunities.

12. Develop a cost-effective strategy to grow your business. Starting your group will require an initial investment. Once in motion, it will act as an on-going marketing vehicle that gives you access to an on-going stream of prospects.

Is this an option that could work for you? I’ve written a 16-page Executive Overview of everything you need to know to successfully start and run a networking group. Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com and I’ll send you a complimentary copy.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him or have him share his expertise at your next meeting or conference visit www.NetworkingForResults.com.

Networking Power Tips: 9 Ways to Keep a Conversation Alive.

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Events offer many conversational opportunities. It’s easy and comfortable to chat with colleagues and friends but, sometimes, you end up in an interaction with someone new. These conversations can hit speed bumps that can have an adverse effect .

Nothing is more awkward than lapses in the conversation, particularly in a one-on-one situation with a person you’ve just met. Here are some suggestions on how to keep conversation flowing and build feelings of trust and affinity.

Create a comfortable atmosphere. Most people open up when they feel at ease. Strive to quickly make others feel comfortable around you. Focus on the other person first, ask probing questions, smile a lot and be sincerely curious about them.

Take responsibility for the conversation. Most people are unsure and anxious when meeting another person. Give them some help by being pro-active and starting the conversation. Introduce yourself, shake hands and ask their name.

Use S.A.F.E. questions. Start a conversation using gentle probing questions that relate to both of you. The situation you’re in (networking event), any activities that are obvious (golf shirt), family (children, holidays) or current events (hockey).

Be curious about others. We all respond to someone who is naturally curious. Being sincerely curious about others will help them talk more openly about themselves, their situation and their lives.

Ask about others first. Asking about others before talking about ourselves requires discipline and is an expression of maturity. It demonstrates a respect for the other person that is immediately obvious and appreciated

Express a sincere interest. It is extremely important to demonstrate that we are actively interested and involved in the conversation. Active listening, eye contact and positive body language all contribute to help others know we care about their responses.

Keep the conversation focused. Try to stay on one topic, extending the conversation until all the information about that area has been discussed. In many cases you will quickly discover another point of discussion to move to.

Listen and watch their level of comfort or stress. People will normally become more comfortable as their level of stress diminishes. Getting them talking usually accelerates this process. Once they feel more comfortable, conversation will become easier.

Make a perceptive statement. Most people will give you strong clues about their inner  thoughts, feelings and emotions, even during a short conversation. By making a comment on the other person’s feelings you can demonstrate genuine interest.

You will be amazed at the information you can elicit from a new networking partner in a 30-second chat by prompting the conversation. It’s not about what you say, it’s about what they tell you.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about his programs and services, or to book him for your next meeting or conference, at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

 

The 5 Networking Event Formats & How to Maximize Each

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Every networking event has its individual dynamics, benefits and drawbacks. Many, if not most, networking events include a meal. The act of “breaking bread” with another person is a powerful relationship-building vehicle. In order to maximize your investment, review the information below.

1. Networking Breakfast. Networking breakfast functions are usually high-intensity events. People who attend these are generally early risers who see this as an opportunity to start the day with a bang. There is a strong business context here and attendees are usually focused and business-oriented. These events have a forced deadline as participants know they have a full day ahead. Social conversation is usually at a minimum, even over a quick coffee to start things off. Expect conversation partners to be direct and to the point. This is a key benefit to these sessions.

Breakfast Success Strategy:  Be prepared. Have a plan. Know whom you want to meet and keep your conversation focused. This is the most effective networking venue for fostering business-to-business networking. Many small-business owners and sole entrepreneurs use early-morning networking as their main marketing strategy. They then have the rest of the day to manage their company.

2. Networking Lunch. The Networking Lunch remains the main strategy for the corporate world. This type of event still starts with casual conversation around the bar then moves to a formal meal environment. There is an emphasis on social interaction as the event unfolds. There is less pressure with respect to time as participants add a more social perspective to their luncheon conversation. Expect to see representatives from larger firms or from more established companies. They are interested in investing time to get to know one another. The conversation tends to focus as much on personal areas as business issues. There is a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

Lunch Success Strategy: Don’t aim for, or expect, immediate results. The Networking Lunch pays the greatest dividends when used as part of longer term marketing strategy that focuses on relationship-building. Joining colleagues or clients for a Networking Lunch Event with your group or organization can offer incredible opportunities to meet new contacts and develop key relationships.

3. Networking Dinner. The networking dinner meeting is essentially a social activity that may or may not include a business context. This is the end of the day. A time for reflection and discussion. There is a formal feeling to these events, which often include an entertainment component. A meal might include wine.

Dinner Success Strategy: Networking in this environment is an exercise in diplomacy. There is little emphasis on business or business development. Conversations may refer to a business issue but this is not the place to flog a product or close a deal. It is, however, the ideal environment to foster and solidify relationships. The relaxed atmosphere allows for conversations that elicit the important issues for others, as well as their areas of highest interest and need. Using the evening networking event with your closest colleagues or most important clients is a powerful marketing strategy.

4. Wine and Cheese. This event is usually the exception rather than the norm. Its stand-up format means that there is less emphasis on creating an intimate connection. Stand-up conversations tend to be shorter, contain less strategic information and are less impactful from a relationship perspective. This is a social setting that may have business overtones. Don’t expect to accomplish much from a business point of view. Most people are here to see or be seen.

Wine and Cheese Success Strategy:  Use this type of event to create contacts. Make sure you collect business cards as follow up is required to build a stronger connection with your new conversation partners. Keep your dialogue light and seek to elicit information you can use for follow up. This is one event where it’s more beneficial to try and connect more people than usual.

5. Trade Show. These events are an exercise in “speed networking”. Whether as a visitor or exhibitor, be prepared for networking at warp speed. The pace and content of conversations is quick and dirty, as attendees want to experience every part of the event and exhibitors are focused on connecting with multiple contacts. Don’t expect any deep discussions but you will connect with many more people than at a regular networking event.

Trade Show Success Strategy: In a word: preparation. Trade show success requires preparation and planning. Know which exhibitors you want to visit with or which attendees you want to touch base with. Your best option here is to continually meet, greet and move on. Have an answer to “what’s new?” for all your existing contacts and if you do make a new connection, get a business card and commit to following up.

Whichever event format you chose, make sure you maximize its impact and your results.


Michael J. Hughes is a recognized authority on utilizing networking as a business strategy. To find out more about him, or to have him present at your next meeting or conference, contact him at his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

 

Is Face-to-Face Networking Dead?

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Technology, the economic downturn and shifting social attitudes have all impacted networking in the last few years. Some have even surmised that face-to-face networking is declining in both impact and importance as a contributor to sales and business-building success. After scouring the internet and consulting with a number of trends experts, here’s my take on networking today and in the future.

Networking is alive and well.

The Mark Twain quote “rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated” is quite appropriate. Rather than lessening in value, networking seems to have increased in importance and impact with all the extraneous factors that have come into play. A recent survey (GrowBiz and Zoomerang) concluded that 86% of business owners said word-of-mouth is important, with 70% citing in-person networking as their primary strategy. Networking is, indeed, alive and well.

Networking and the maturing of social media.

The myth of social media replacing the need for face-to-face contact has dissipated, with social media strategies accepting the reality of incorporating and intertwining online and offline marketing options. The social network phenomenon is gravitating to its true value as a component and complement to the interpersonal relationship-building process that drives our lives and determines our success.

Networking and technology overload.

More and more professionals are committing to “disconnect to connect”; turning off technology and allowing themselves to interact with others on a more personal and intimate level. By choosing to eliminate the distractions and interruptions technology brings, they are accepting the true impact of interacting with others and accelerating the relationship process. B2B and B2C has evolved to B2P (business to people), where it’s been for hundreds of years.

Networking and the trust factor.

There is no question that we have become more cynical and cautious. With up to 80% of people now researching purchase decisions online and the multitude of options available, how do we choose? There is no more powerful differentiator than connecting with others in real-time to share your passion, competence, integrity and professionalism. Building trust is, and has always been, a face-to-face activity. The lost art of social contact is becoming the difference maker in our multiple-choice market.

Networking and business strategy.

The economy continues to impact where we commit our resources and how we deliver our products or services. Every investment must be managed and measured. Networking continues to be the single most cost-effective sales and business-building strategy in today’s complex and competitive environment, but only when it is utilized strategically, to access and leverage the right network, with the right strategy for the right outcomes.

Now, go work your network!

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Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com or email him at info@NetworkingForResults.com

5 Guidelines to Maximize your Most Valuable Resource: Your Time.

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As an executive, business/sales professional or entrepreneur, your ability to manage and maximize the resources at your disposal will always dictate the success you achieve. This includes the people you come in contact with, the assets you have access to and, most of all, your personal productivity.

Time is a professional’s most valued and valuable resource. It is a constantly diminishing resource that is finite, measurable and unforgiving. Your ability to maximize its impact and minimize its constraints will dictate the results you achieve. Use these time management guidelines to increase your personal productivity:

Be prepared. A manager’s two important skills are to think and to plan. The more time you invest thinking about what’s important to success for both you and your enterprise, the more you will emphasize putting time and effort in those areas. In addition, the better your plan, the easier it will for you, and everyone else involved in your business environment, to know what activities will produce the highest return. A written plan is one of the most important time management tools you can create. Make it a point to think and plan every day.

Be strategic. Know the difference between being efficient and being effective. Being efficient is getting a lot done. Being effective, on the other hand, is ensuring that you get right things done to move your business  or career forward. Leadership, by its very nature, accepts there will never be enough time to get everything done. The key to professional success recognizes that focusing the most important and valuable tasks, and getting them accomplished, will always be enough. Your most questions should always be “what is the important thing I can do NOW to move my business or career forward?”

Be structured. As a business professional, especially in the early stages of your career or mandate, it’s common to get overwhelmed, then simply try to work harder as the tasks pile up. This strategy will only exacerbate the problem, adding anxiety and exhaustion to the mix. Develop the habit of creating a daily written task list and prioritizing each item relative to its importance and value to your personal and professional success. This will not only reinforce productive time use, it will also increase your confidence. If ever you feel uncertain or overwhelmed, simply find a quiet spot, and revise your list based on your current situation. This is one of the most powerful time management habits you can develop.

Be ruthless. Because you have accepted total responsible for your life, you are under constant time pressure. You must develop the skill and the discipline of being ruthless with your time while staying gracious with people. This is why being prepared, strategic and structured are important. They allow you to weigh a request for your time in the context of its value for you, your productivity and your professional outcomes. Accept that it will be necessary for you to say “no” to certain time requests. Prepare for this eventually by developing options that will minimize the negative impact. Replies like “looking at my schedule, I can’t see how I can do this”, or “check back with me tomorrow” can let you off the hook without damaging a relationship.

Be balanced. Entrepreneurship or management can be an all-consuming vocation. Before you know it, it can take over your life, sometimes at the expense of other equally-important life categories. Your life and your time require a holistic approach. The professional and personal areas of life are inter-dependent and inter-connected. Non-business areas like health, relationships and spirituality will always have an impact on your outcomes. For this reason, it is essential that you include all areas of your life in your time and priority management perspective.

The four cornerstones of effective time management.
1. Clarify your focus in your main life categories
2. Create a written plan that includes goals in all major life areas
3. Implement a daily prioritized action plan.
4. Review and revise your time management plan on an on-going basis.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him, or have him share his wealth of knowledge at your meeting or event, visit www.NetworkingForResults.com.

12 Networking Hacks that Dramatically Drive Results.

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Networking is an activity that every professional is involved in, both formally and informally. How can you accelerate the results you want and need? Here are the top networking hacks you can use to help you minimize your effort and maximize your results.

1. Find the 5% that matter. Networking, in its purest form, is a strategic exercise. Knowing who to connect with allows you to zero in on the highest probability candidates for your product/service (about 5% of any network), allowing you to meet the right people by design as opposed to by default.

2. Be in the right circle. One of the biggest networking myths is that activity drives results. In reality, focus is the most effective factor in determining success. If you’re in the right network, you will eventually find people who want your product or service, even if networking isn’t your strength.

3. Use verbal judo. In martial arts, technique is more important than strength. It’s how a seemingly weak athlete can easily take down and submit a stronger opponent. You can do the same during a conversation by using “Tell me about…” It takes all the pressure off you and opens a conversational void most are happy to fill.

4. Cultivate this quality. One of the most powerful personal characteristics is sincere curiosity. It will separate you from the pack and help others perceive you as more personable and professional. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. It takes intention, being in the moment and paying attention to a conversation partner.

5. Get the right ammo. Your key objective when networking is to get the other person’s contact info. It’s your most powerful ammunition to keep the relationship moving forward. Others anticipate and expect it, and will think you more professional for asking.

6. Find a link and leverage it. Even the briefest networking conversation can be converted into a relationship. All you need to do is listen better and ask more questions. Then, when you hear a topic or area that links you both, use it as a lever to re-connect and push the relationship forward.

7. Realize what others are really asking. Almost every networking conversation includes the question ”What do you do?” You need to realize that what the other person really wants to know is your value, not your life story. Prepare a 15-word elevator pitch that communicates your target market, primary benefit and the results you provide.

8. Cut to the chase. Most professionals have no idea how to communicate their value. Many will ramble incoherently about information that only confuses and annoys. You can bypass this whole issue by asking “Who are you looking to connect with?” It immediately unlocks the right info.

9. Eliminate the rejection factor. The single biggest business-related networking issue is failure to follow up. In fact, over 90% of professionals say they do no follow up (mostly due to fear of rejection). Minimize this effect by asking “Can I follow up?” before the conversation ends.

10. Shorten the leash. While networking can ignite a relationship, it cannot sustain one. On-going contact does that. That’s why following up is crucial. The sooner you re-connect with a conversation partner (ideally within 6-12 hours), the easier the relationship process will accelerate.

11. Hedge your bets. It is a fact that not every person you meet will do hire, refer or do business with you. However, if you can discover a way to contribute to their business life, they will remember you and work on your behalf. Use the five minute rule to help you take action when you see an opportunity to contribute: If it can be done in five minutes, do it now.

12. Take the long view. Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. Commit to growing a relationship for 90 days without expectation of reward. Then evaluate your situation and either re-commit or cut bait.

Remember: Networking is a skill-based activity. These twelve hacks can help you accelerate your networking success, but they also involve skills that take time to develop. Which one should you work on this week to drive your networking results?


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

 

Networking Power Tips: 9 Ways to Conclude a Networking Conversation

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So you made a good first impression, identified some common interests and agreed on follow-up. Now is the time to conclude the conversation in an effective way and move to new opportunities, but how do you accomplish this with professionalism and poise?

Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that a networking conversation is really part of a process. They don’t accept that these interactions have a natural and normal conclusion, and that managing it effectively increases the impact with a conversation partner. Here are some practical, proven tips to maximize this important transition point.

1.Accept reality. Conversations end, just as life does. Very few people seem to know how or be comfortable with concluding a networking conversation. You can greatly help others by managing this portion of the process and making it easy for them.

2. Watch for signs. Usually there will be a lack of conversation or a loss of interest in the topic being discussed. When this happens, it means that the energy and enthusiasm of the contact is waning. Become more aware when this happens to better manage the process.

3. Decide to act. Recognizing that there is no further value to the conversation can be a signal to either re-stimulate the discussion or change conversation partners. Identifying this issue and taking positive action is both beneficial and necessary.

4. Consider your partner first. Although some situations allow for a quick exit, remember that it is bad manners to simply conclude a conversation, leaving the other person standing alone. Consider their feelings before using this tactic.

5. Summarize the discussion. When you see no further benefit for either party, you can summarize the conversation and indicate you want to move on. You can also at this point indicate that you wish to allow the other person to meet others.

6. Create a follow up opportunity. As the networking interaction ends, it is usually an excellent point to suggest a follow up opportunity, using an issue discussed earlier in the conversation and requesting a business card.

7. Thank the other person. One of the most important and overlooked parts of concluding a conversation is to take the time to thank the other person. This demonstrates integrity, respect and professionalism.

8. Expand the conversation. Sometimes it is just as beneficial to bring another person into the conversation. This allows a change in focus and can allow you to more easily move to another conversation without feeling you have abandoned the other person.

9. Change locations. If you don’t want to abandon your networking partner but want to create some new enthusiasm in your conversation, perhaps you can ask him or her to come with you to another location such as food table, or to join a larger group,

Successful networkers prepare for success. By creating and developing more options to conclude a conversation, you will be perceived as more professional and personable, which has a direct impact on trust and the relationship-building process. Do you have specific question about concluding a conversation? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. Let’s chat. I can help.

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Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him at www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of his 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Experience.

5 Networking Secrets that Leverage Centers of Influence

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We all have centers of influence. We know who they are and how they can affect our business, career or life. Yet, we continuously struggle to make the most of their power and potential.

One of the keys to maximizing centers of influence depends on how quickly, and how well, the relationship develops. Follow one or more of the strategies listed below to accelerate the process and reap the benefits these valuable relationships have to offer.

Focus on the process. Relationships follow a natural and defined process. It usually takes time and a certain number of contacts to feel comfortable with another person.
Instead of keying on the results you want, look to manage the process. There are six phases in the relationship-development process. By becoming more aware of them, you can have a direct impact on each. This is especially important when dealing with centers of influence who can offer major benefits.

Use a structure. We all lead busy lives with too much to do and too many people to keep track of. Discovering, developing and leveraging relationships with centers of influence is a priority as well as a critical success factor in business and in life. Using a specific structure to manage and track your highest-value relationships is a necessity. Develop a structure, either on paper or using technology, to keep the process moving forward for mutual benefit.

Be pro-active. We humans are social creatures. We are enamored with the relationship process. Too often, we rely on it to be self-directed. This can be enjoyable but does not help us achieve the results we want and need. Presume every conversation with a center of influence will require a follow up contact. Continually look for opportunities to confirm another meeting, create more value or bring an additional benefit.

Build trust. Trust is the single most powerful characteristic in a relationship. It is the foundation of every important relationship in your life. It can, by itself, be the stimulus to having others help you achieve your objectives. People perceive everything we do to be either for, or against, them. Discovering ways to demonstrate your trust in others, especially centers of influence, can have major effect on their willingness to help.

Clarify your objectives. You’re either working your plan, or you’re working someone else’s plan. One of the main reasons why others are not more helpful to us is that they are unclear as to how they can be of service. Evaluate each center of influence and clarify your needs from each .The more specific and selective you are, the easier you will make it for them to help you. This way, both of you will gain from the result.

Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. This can take weeks, months, or even years. Are you investing the right amount of tome effort and energy on these invaluable resources? I’ve spent the last 20 years building better relationships. If this is an area of concern or opportunity for you, contact me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. I can help.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

 

 

Networking Power Tips – Taking Charge of a Conversation

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Whether at a formal event or in an informal conversation, the axiom that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression holds true. How can you maximize the early stages of a networking  interaction for greater personal and professional impact? Here are some strategies to help you use this important relationship phase to build rapport, increase trust and engage your conversation partner.

Feel confident that others will like and accept you. It’s natural to feel anxious when meeting others. Yet, in reality, most people are just like you. They want to meet new friends and will be happy you chose them to speak with. Remind yourself of this every time you enter a networking function. In fact, you should take a few moments before arriving to create a positive mental attitude about meeting others. This alone can have a huge impact on your conversations.

Realize the stress on others. An initial contact is usually the most stressful time for most people. When you take charge of the conversation you help others by giving them a direction. This immediately reduces stress and anxiety. By taking responsibility for engaging your conversation partner, you immediately make the experience more pleasant and positive for her/him.

Play the host/hostess role. Have you ever hosted a party? How did you welcome new arrivals? By assuming a host/hostess mentality, you will tend to be more pro-active in engaging others. Introducing yourself and starting a conversation or introducing new arrivals to others all contribute to helping others feel more comfortable and enhance their feelings of trust about us.

Smile.  “The smile is the window to the soul”. When you smile you’re whole face lights up. It shows others you are a positive person. It attracts others and makes them feel comfortable around you. A sincere smile will always be your most powerful resource in demonstrating to others that you are personable. Use it more often.

Look the other person in the eye. Eye contact is a powerful and positive trust-building strategy. It demonstrates to others that they have our full attention and, on a deeper level, that we care enough to listen to their words. To maximize this technique, look into the other person’s eyes until you determine their color.

Introduce yourself. Most people have a brain-freeze moment when meeting an new conversation partner. Others just aren’t sure what to do. Taking the initiative to start the conversation gets the ball rolling and offers a specific starting point. Most people will respond with their name, and if they don’t, it’s almost natural to ask.

Offer your hand. The handshake is the only acceptable form of physical contact between two strangers in our society. Shaking hands is perceived as an act of friendship that dates back thousands of years. In addition, it creates a physical bond with the other person. This also gives the other person an action to perform, which reduces stress and anxiety.

Be aware of your body language. When we first meet another person, we read all their communication levels almost simultaneously as they do the same. Because networking is a high-stress activity, many people are prone to excessive gestures or words, sometie4ms without even being aware of it. Less body movement has more impact, projecting a sense of confidence. Fewer words have more impact. In both cases, less is more.

Recognize the impact of your voice.  The tone of your voice can have a major impact in making others feel at ease. Sounding gentle and sincere can greatly help to make your initial contact a positive experience for others. A softer tone of voice will always make you seem more personable and positive to others. It invites a cordial conversation and implies competence.

One size does not fit all. Although these suggestions are proven and practical, it’s imperative that you be aware that each conversation is unique and individual and must be customized to both your conversation partner the environment you are in. Today’s multi-cultural busies environment may mean that you need to adapt your strategy to accommodate the other person’s background or culture.


Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

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