Confession – I am not a “natural” networker.
I’m an introvert. I don’t like schmoozing. I feel claustrophobic in crowds.
Yet, my entire business is built on networking. How’s that?
Here’s what I’ve learned – you don’t have to be a gabby social butterfly to build deep networking relationships. In fact, I’m going to tell you the only two questions – that’s right, just two – that you need to employ, in order to build strong bonds with other professionals.
These questions are guaranteed to get people to open up, and to feel deeply indebted to you (and appreciative of you).
- When you meet someone, ask a question like this: “So, you’re the Senior Manager of Customer Experience at Acme Solutions – I’ll bet that wasn’t written in your high school yearbook goals! Tell me how you arrived at this place…!” Then just shut up and listen. People LOVE to tell their story, and you’ve just opened a gusher of information that will lead to 15 other questions.
- At the close of the conversation, ask this: “Who can I refer to you?” Get them to paint the picture of what their ideal customer looks like, so you can be on the lookout. You’ve just volunteered to help, and in the way that is the most impactful of all – a readiness to be a referral source.
And, by the way, if you do start introducing people to other key folks, you’ve won a friend for life.
No matter how awkward you may feel about socializing, these two questions – think of them as the ( parentheses ) around the initial introduction – will make you the best networker in the room.
Don’t worry about meeting a dozen people. Take a deep interest in one or two. All it takes is two questions and two ears!