The benefits of business networking are invaluable. When you meet new people, you learn interesting ideas, build relationships outside your immediate circle, and create an environment that cultivates new opportunities. But, many people, particularly those who consider themselves introverts, find initiating conversations with strangers to be awkward and uncomfortable. In the past, I’ve addressed this in several posts including this one: Introverts can be great networkers too! Here are three more ideas to help get the dialogue going.
- Take a friend with you. When you have someone you know close by (maybe someone who struggles with networking as much as you do), it will give you the confidence you need to approach others. Caution though: don’t fall into the trap of just talking to each other all event!
- Do some research in advance. Look up speakers and attendees ahead of time so that they don’t feel like strangers when you first meet them. Plus, it builds instant bonds when you can compliment someone on a recent accomplishment. This is where online tools such as LinkedIn can be a real boon to finding out more about others beforehand.
- Prepare a few opening lines. Develop a few questions to help you get the conversation going. What does your job entail? What interesting project are you working on right now? What made you come to this event? And once you get going, use this phrase – Tell me more about that – to keep the dialogue moving right along.
So what other ideas do you have for people who struggle with business networking? Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, I’d love to hear from you, and I know that we could all learn from one another.