Sunday, November 16, 2008

Networking or How to Have a Conversation

You know the old saying, "good things come to those who wait." In business, good things come to those who go get them. If you generally wait for someone else to start a conversation, it's time to take ownership. You own your own business right? Own your conversation too. That doesn't mean dominate the conversation, you need to learn how to be an effective listener as well and I'll go into that later, but for now, here are a few ways that you can break the ice regarding your business. Asking these questions of your conversation partner will automatically generate conversation. You might ask them:
  • Describe a typical day on the job.
  • What got them started in the area that they work?
  • What ways have they found most effective to promote their business.
  • What advice would they give to someone just starting out in business.
  • What was the best job they ever had? What was the worst?
  • Ask them to describe how the seasons impact their work.
  • Ask them to describe the strangest situation they have ever encountered while working.

Let the natural person in you come out when talking with people. It's okay to take risks in conversation and anticipate success. Remember your sense of humor. Practice different ways of starting a conversation. It's perfectly acceptable to ask a person to repeat their name if you forget it. Be prepared to tell others something interesting or challenging about what you do.

Many of us dread going to a social gathering knowing that we will walk into a room not knowing a single person. These situations can be business networking opportunities at there best. Just remember that "small talk" connects us whether a gathering is social or business.

The ability to talk easily with people with a learned skill, not a personality trait. Acquiring this skill will help you develop positive relationships that last longer than any business card could. And finally, remember to smile and offer your hand for a firm handshake. In this day of contracts and technology, there is still something to be said for a handshake and a smile.