I was sitting on the gurney at my colonoscopy looking at the other men and women wearing the same plaid gown (tied in the back) I was thinking that this would be a great place to network. Yes, my mind goes into networking mode the minute I enter a room with new people. But for many folks, this is a difficult task and they do not know what to say.
By definition, networking is the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. But networking often gets a bad rap.
Some people view networking as having fake conversations or chit chat with a means to an end.
Networking is not a bad word. It is the lifeblood of making connections and learning new things. So if you are one of those people who hates the idea of networking, I am going to help change your belief and create a positive mind shift.
Current Belief: Networking is nerve racking. It is hard for me to make small talk with people I do not know. When I try it, I feel fake and insecure.
Mind shift: Networking can be fun. A room of strangers can provide a great opportunity to make new friends, gain new information, generate business contacts and meet people who share my values and passions. Why wouldn’t I want to do that?
The most important technique in networking is to ask open ended questions that do not allow others to say yes or no. In order to engage in dialogue, you want to encourage people to talk. “How are you today?” is not as effective as, “What is one great thing that happened to you today?” Similarly, “Do you come here often?” Is not as effective as “What do you like about this place?”
Here are some simple questions to help shift your current mindset to a networking mindset when you are at any type of event where you do not know the attendees.
You will be amazed where simple dialogue will take you.
- What made you decide to come to this event?
- How did you hear about this event?
- How long have you been involved in this organization?
- What do you do for work?
- What do you like most about your job?
- Where are you from?
- Where was your last vacation?
- What is your favorite? App? Restaurant? TV show?
- I love that ____. Where did you get it?
- What is on your reading list?
And if you really get stuck, you can always say, “What is your favorite question to ask someone at a networking event?” smiley face
Denise Rosenblum is the President and Founder of Dynamic Development, a training company that specializes in developing employees to become stronger communicators, managers and leaders. Denise works with companies to create an environment where employees feel valued as a result of career development, training, feedback and coaching.
Denise has over 30 years of professional development and marketing experience having worked at global companies including McCann Erickson, Young and Rubicam, Hill Holliday and Arnold Worldwide.
Denise is a seasoned trainer, speaker, executive coach and an expert in communication skills, customer service and management and leadership
development. She has excellent insight into people’s strengths and opportunities for growth.
In her current role, as President of Dynamic Development, Denise has an extensive track record of building successful managers and leaders. Her areas of expertise include:
- Executive leadership and management coaching
- Identifying communication styles and how/where to flex your style
- Providing talent assessment evaluations to company leadership
- Building business through relationships and excellent client service
- Performance management and giving constructive feedback
- Developing and delivering successful and engaging presentations
- Conducting efficient and productive meetings
- Time management and prioritization