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Networking tips and tricks

Danny Beyer is a sales executive at Kabel Business Services. He is a serial networker and often speaks about networking tips to groups in the community.

Over the upcoming weeks, I’ll be sharing some insights on successful networking. These tips and tricks are things I’ve observed others do or have found useful in my own endeavors. Some topics will cover questions I’m routinely asked by people new to networking or people trying to feel more comfortable with it.  Remember, networking isn’t a science, and everyone has their own unique take on how to do it well. These are simply items that I’ve found useful over the years. 

Tip 1:  How to enter a conversation or do an introduction

This question has been posed multiple times: “I’m at an event or a party and only know the person I came with. How do I introduce myself or break into a conversation with people I don’t know?” This is one of the most intimidating moments of networking because of a couple different factors. 1. We don’t want to come off as abrasive or rude by interrupting a conversation. 2. What do we talk about after the introduction is made?

The simple answer is to always remember the surroundings. Most people attending networking events expect to be interrupted and are hoping to meet new people. The other secret – they’re probably just as nervous as you are. The easiest way to enter a conversation is to simply introduce yourself and then have at least one to two conversation starters ready to go.  Some common conversation starters include:

-          Talking about the event space or location. This is especially useful at fundraising events or community support events.

-          Asking why they’re attending the event, what they hope to get out of it.

-          Asking the usual, “What do you do for a living?”

-          My personal favorite, “What are you passionate about?”

I enjoy the “passionate” question because it gives the other person an opportunity to share about something they truly care about. It lets them set the stage by either talking about a professional topic or personal topic. Always try to avoid yes/no style questions that don’t require much follow up. Remember, the broader the question is the more opportunity the new acquaintance has to answer as they see fit and continue the conversation.  

Stay tuned in coming weeks for more tips.

-Danny Beyer

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Comments

I liked - and have used - all of your suggestions except for the last one. If someone were to ask me what I'm passionate about at a networking event, he/she would lose all credibility with me. The conversation would be over. Poof!

For my part, I'd welcome the "passionate" question. I admit the question could sound weird (especially if it came from a creepy person), but weird can be refreshing. It can lead to memorable conversations; a welcome departure from the superficiality that often prevails at networking events.

Maybe a safer way to head down that road would be to start with "So what do you enjoy outside of work?" That may be a more benign way of steering the conversation to things that matter.

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