One of my employees told me this week that she passed some advice from one of my books on to her cousin; it was about making connections at networking functions. She told me that her cousin, Greg, recently joined a chamber of commerce to promote the new business he started after being laid off from the company he had worked in for a number of years and he felt clueless as to how to form connections with the strangers he came in contact with at mixers.
My employee remembered reading an article by Alice Ostrower in my book Masters of Networking about making connections so she passed it on to Greg. Reportedly he feels much more comfortable at mixers and has been having a lot more success in networking his business because he now has a strategy for making connections and he feels he knows his purpose when he arrives at a networking event.
Here are the four standard techniques that have been working for Greg and I guarantee they will help you get your networking message across effectively and encourage a positive response (Thanks, Alice! :)):
1. Get the person’s attention. Show interest by asking questions: “How are you?” “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” “Have you heard about? . . .” “Did you know? . . .”
2. Add interest. Respond to the answer but don’t move the conversation to you; elicit more information from the other person.
3. Involve. Use the “feel, felt, found” formula (“I know how you feel, I felt the same way, and this is what I found”) to involve yourself in the other person’s message before you deliver your own.
4. Network. Tie it all together by connecting one person’s needs or goals with the resources, needs, or goals of another person. For example: “I felt the same way until I met John Jones. He really helped me accomplish my goals. Why don’t I have him give you a call? Is tomorrow evening convenient?”
This is networking at its best. Your new acquaintance finds a solution to a problem, your referral gets new business, and you gain a reputation as a friendly, reliable, knowledgeable person who seems to know everybody. Your name and reputation will become familiar to more and more people, and your business will automatically benefit in the long run.