By Travis Long
Almost every networking event starts off the same way. You go to the event, business cards in hand. You’re looking polished, you have your best suit on, everything is perfect right? There is a man to your left, you walk up to him and introduce yourself:
” Hi how are you? My name is John and I’m a salesman at XYZ insurance. I sell whole and term life insurance. Let me know if you need anything.” (hands man his card).
Is there anything missing from this conversation? You have given your name, what you do, and let the man know that you can help him should he need it. You are trying to meet people to make more connections which in the end will provide you with more money and enable you to add more value to your company. And, as we all know, often times it is not about what you know, but who you know. So networking is important. And in business and networking, there is often the feeling that when talking to a potential client or business contact, you have to close the deal right away or hand out that business card right away. But networking has to be done in the right way. Going on and on about yourself and not trying to connect with the other person is not going to win over your audience. At best, the other person will think that you have zero social skills, at worst, he will think that you are desperate. Both are not going to win you new clients or business. This is why you need to bring a little bit more of yourself to the table. You really limit yourself when you only represent yourself and what you do for a living. You have to be likeable and be able to bond with someone – you have to find something of shared interest. Golf, for example, is popular in the business world because of this. You and a potential connection get together to play a round and have some competitive fun. At this point, you both are probably feeling more comfortable, so you can ask them more about what they do, share stories about common interests, and then possibly bring up business ideas and projects and so on. Successful business people want to do business with people they can spend casual time with.
Relationships build over time, so don’t feel pressured to push for that contact. Now if you feel that you’re making a connection and picking up on good vibes then and only then should you do it right away. So what should you do if you’re feeling anxious or a little overwhelmed? Start off small by keeping conversation light and leaving it at that and eventually confidence will follow and you’ll feel ready to start making some big business contacts and connections.