Business networking events are a great place to connect with professionals within any market niche. They offer career minded professionals a great avenue to meet new people and expand their professional connections and set the stage for new career opportunities.
Most professions offer some sort of professional associations or networking that bring likeminded individuals together; but the thought of prospecting and starting meaningful conversations with strangers at these events can be a frightening to some individuals. By utilizing these basic tips starting a conversation will be an ease.
First Impressions Count!!!
You should always remember that the first impression you make when meeting a new person, effects how they will perceive you in the future. The first few minutes of a conversation will affect your relationship with them going forward; so always be confident, make eye contact, smile, speak with a clear strong voice and be confident in your skills and qualifications. A pleasant, secure introduction will always open the door to an effective and rewarding conversation.
Question, Question, Question…
Asking smart, inquisitive questions of people will allow you to start a conversation by learning about others. By showing interest in others will open up a line of communication that sincerely shows your interest in getting to know someone or their business. Questions that are thoughtful, that spark an individual’s interest are the best. Asking open ended questions that spur conversation; like, how long have you been in your current role at the company? What are your products like? How is their business doing? Who else from their organization is at the event? are all good questions that allow a conversation to grow.
Business, Business, Business!! Talk About Something Else…
Professional networking events are always about business. People talk about business all day, but they do have other interests and aspects to their lives. Opening conversations up to other interests; holiday events, families, sporting events, etc.. all allow people to relax and have more rewarding conversations that are memorable.
Studies have shown that individuals that can relate on a more personal level, have a greater chance of working together than those that strictly revolve around business interests.
Controversy!!! Avoid It At All Costs…
When we say first impressions count; meeting people for the first time and bringing up or discussing controversial subjects will always lead to failure. Always try to keep your conversations light and avoid subjects that are controversial. As a rule of thumb politics, race, religion, sex are all good subjects to avoid until you have a deeper lasting relationship with someone.
Find Common Interests..
The best way to strike up a conversation with someone is to have a common interest. It builds respect and a personal level of rapport with someone almost instantly. This can be both working within the same industry, company, or simply having the same hobby, etc.. Learning about individuals interests will allow you to strike up a conversation quickly.
Breaking the ice and having meaningful conversations takes some practice and may not go as planned immediately, but continuing to have conversations and meet new people will effectively develop your conversational skills and expand your career prospects as you grow as an individual.