The convention season for our industry kicks off next month and one of the biggest benefits of attending any event has nothing to do with technology, new products or even education - it's about building a strong support network for your future!
Some of the points below might seem outrageously basic and in the category of your mother reminding you to say "please" and "thank you". But, it's amazing how many people have forgotten the art of conversation, a firm handshake and looking somebody in the eye when they talk. My good buddy Scott Bourne, hits on seven basics to help you launch each new friendship in the right direction.
With the annual trade show and convention season almost upon us, it's never too early to start thinking about how you'll get the most out of each event. Here are some networking conversation starters and tips to get you going.
- When you shake hands with someone, look them in the eye and repeat their name - twice if possible. This shows you're engaged with them and helps you remember who they are. If you're comfortable doing it, lean in to the person when you shake hands. This is a sign of acceptance and warmth.
- When you're talking to someone look them in the eye - not over their shoulder to see if someone more important is nearby.
- Put away the cell phone when you're meeting face-to-face. Tweet later. Update Facebook later. For now, try some old fashioned HUMAN networking.
- Listen more than you talk and ask lots of open-ended questions. If you want to be a successful networker you're going to have to learn that it takes caring about the other person's needs to get yours met.
- Ask what one big problem or challenge your new friend faces and if you have a possible solution, offer it - don't sell - just offer to help.
- Be sincere. Don't make promises you can't keep. If you're not truly interested in someone, spend enough time to be polite but move on. No sense in building false expectations.
- Introduce your new friend to at least two of your old friends, preferably before you leave your current conversation. This way you're not just walking away, but you're doing something that might turn out to be super helpful.
And remember as always, Skip and I are rooting for you.
Illustration Credit: © Arpad Nagy-Bagoly - Fotolia.com