Networking – my 13 top tips (part 1 of 2)

28th November 2023

When you’re at a networking event, having lovely chats with lovely strangers, it can be pretty daunting.

What to talk about? How long for? How to politely end your chat, without resorting to “I really need the toilet”…

I have 13 top tips for you, showing how to be better at networking. Seven of them this week; the other six, next.

Do you do them all?

  1. Think like a host, not a guest. When you host an event, it’s relatively easy to approach people. When you’re a guest, it can feel more awkward to do so. So adopt the ‘host mindset’ and use this confidence to go speak to people
  2. Know your opening. When you know how to start a conversation, it’s easy to start one. When you don’t, it’s impossible. So, work out your opening sentence – my favourite is “do you mind if I join you?”
  3. Be interested. To ensure they – and therefore you – enjoy your chat, find out what the other person’s interested in. And then talk about that
  4. Prepare great questions. Prepare a handful of great questions to ask, to find out about the other person. Yes, you can use the usual conversation starters – what do you do, where do you work, etc. But also probe more, to find their main priorities – “what are you responsible for achieving?”
  5. Ask “tell me more?” When they tell you something, ask them to tell you more about it. Don’t just use their info as an excuse for you to start speaking about you! You’re supposed to be listening… not just waiting for your turn to speak!
  6. Prepare your elevator pitch (using AFTERs). People will ask what you do. So have an interesting answer. The easiest way to do this is to focus on AFTERs – in other words, why people are better-off AFTER you. For example, when people ask what I do, I say, “I help companies sell more than they thought they could”. Because that’s what happens AFTER me. they now ask ‘how?’ – and we have a good chat. If I did the more traditional “I’m a sales consultant”, they’d probably reply “between jobs, are you?”
  7. Tell stories. When people ask more about what you do, tell stories. Don’t just list your job deliverables. For example, if someone asks how I help companies sell more, I might say “for example, I recently helped a large bank win a deal worth £billions. That’s the sort of thing I do”. They’ll then ask more about it. However, if I say, “I deliver my stuff through a mixture of consultancy projects, executive coaching, proposal review and webinars”, their only response to that will be “Oh”. (An easy way to remember this tip – “facts tell. Stories sell”).

Remember: the #1 thing with networking is this: if you are going to do it, you might as well be brilliant at it.

Which means choosing simple techniques that will make you brilliant.

Which means…

Action Point

… next time you go networking, choose which tip(s) from the above list will make you even more brilliant at it. And then do them!

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