I’ve been a professional speaker for twenty years and have never advertised my business.
Instead, I gain clients through a very unique form of networking.
Having an early career in the music business taught me the value of working crowds. I developed a technique for assessing a crowded room very quickly.
Through the years I’ve come to realize two “truths” about networking. One truth is an old saw and the other is so politically incorrect that I have seldom mentioned it–until now.
Truth #1: Networking is not about you.
Truth #2: When it comes to networking, not everyone in the room has value.
Get the other person to talk first
Most such events feature food, music, old faces, new faces and adult beverages.
I remember when we used to refer to networking as “drinking.” Tweet This
There is almost always alcohol and food involved with networking. Holding a glass, a plate and a fork while eating food and talking to strangers is just about the most unnatural thing I can imagine.
Still, people in this type of circumstance find a way to talk. And talk. And talk.
Have you ever met someone at a networking event who does all of the talking for both of you? Of course, you have. I’m referring to someone who is so excited to share, that he carries on as if he’ll never have a chance to talk again. And the topic is–himself.
Most people attend networking events so they can do a little marketing for their business. The goal is usually to make a few contacts that might materialize into customers, right?
But the best networkers know that the key to making connections is listening. When you ask the right questions and then listen, you’ll instantly discover if the other person is a potential customer–or not.
And to do this, you need only to talk to certain people.
Everyone is not equal when networking
But everyone doesn’t have value to you. In order to use your marketing time wisely and work the room efficiently, you must be able to identify the people in the room who have high commercial value for you and your business.
This involves a very unique set of communication skills.
You must, for example, be able to interrupt. This takes a certain combination of boldness and deft diplomacy.
You must also be able to extricate from a conversation that is not helping you achieve your primary networking goal. It’s not easy to simply end a conversation and walk away. The basic strategy for this involves saying “Will you excuse me?” They always do.
If you’re on a mission to improve your business, you must only spend time with people who are worth something to your enterprise. Discovering who is most valuable at a Chamber of Commerce reception is a bit like a shell game with a time limit. You’re going to need a boat load of confidence.
Fake it ’til you make it
Confidence is everything, when it comes to networking.
Most everyone finds confidence attractive.
The famous people that I’ve met–people like Rick Springfield, Mike Love, Tony Robbins, and even George Herbert Walker Bush–have all been regular people when you get down to it.
Get tips for meeting celebrities in my blog article on the subject.