Recently I was asked to speak for a women’s networking event about “Creating Connections on Purpose for Profit.” We asked each of the twenty or so attendees to answer this question as they introduced themselves.
As an avid networker for over twenty years now and someone who’s often complimented on my vast network of connections, I expected to hear the complaints I’ve often heard before about hating to make small talk, the windbag you can’t get away from or not getting any real business from networking.
The group surprised me with their top three concerns.
- Having trouble remembering people’s names
- Being shy and not knowing what to say
- Not being good with follow-up
There’s no shortage of information about networking and a quick internet search will turn up a multitude of answers to any of these issues. What I find is that the only things that will work are the things that you will actually do. For me and for most people I know, we have so many projects, so many tasks and so many people to follow up with that we are not going to take a lot of time studying the ‘how-to’ of things that irritate us about networking or anything else we aren’t comfortable with or feel we ‘should’ do. It’s easier just to avoid networking all together. That’s probably not smart if you’re looking to get new business or to build a platform of fans or followers.
Let’s start by doing the easiest things to incorporate into what we’re already doing. You can build skill one tip at a time. Here’s one easy tip for each of the three concerns they identified.
- To remember someone’s name imagine them talking with someone else you know by the same name. When you see them, the visual of the person you already know will come up and jog your memory. Over the years I’ve heard many memory techniques for remembering names but this is the one that’s easiest for me. Don’t know anyone by that name? Does the name rhyme with anything or sound similar to a familiar object? Create a visual for the name and it’s easier to remember.
- Not sure what to say? Have a simple, well-rehearsed answer to the ‘What do you do?’ question then ask a question of the other person. Listen for something you can ask more about. For most people, their favorite subject is themselves. They want to tell you about who they are and what they do. Ask. Listen. Repeat. If you show a genuine interest in the other person they’ll walk away thinking you’re the most brilliant person in the room.
- Is follow-up overwhelming? Let go of the belief that you need to follow up with everyone you meet. Follow up with those you genuinely connected with. People with whom you’d like to stay in touch. A simple LinkedIn connection with a short “Great to meet you at…” note is an easy follow-up. You may also want to ‘Friend’ them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Later, when you come across an article, a tip or a connection that you think would interest them, you can send an email or share a post. The key is to connect. To begin a professional relationship where you can get to know each other over time.
These are three simple tips for the top three pet peeves that were voiced in that meeting. I’d love to hear yours. Either your tips or your pet peeves in networking. You can comment on this post or send an email to Myra@MyraMcElhaney.com.
I look forward to hearing from you!