Business Networking Part 3: What to Say and What to Watch Out For
Following on from Part 2, we delve further into the world of successful networking.
In Crowded Coffee Shops, You Sometimes Overhear Interesting Business Conversations
On one occasion, two IT professionals were in deep discussion. The younger of them was leaving the company and relocating to New Zealand. The older one expressed sadness over this move and kept complimenting his younger companion, describing him as a maverick whose talent would be sorely missed.
The younger man enjoyed the attention so much he never realised that the older man wanted something from him – a commitment to provide some measure of support after the work handover. The younger man was under no obligation to do this, and might have preferred a clean break in his new country, but he eventually gave way and his companion achieved his objective.
This story is a reminder that business conversations, even casual ones in coffee shops, should always be handled with care. That includes networking conversations.
Stay Friendly, but Alert
At business networking events, nobody knows much about you or about the virtues of the product or service you provide. In effect, you’re another suit with a business card. This means that the personal qualities come to the fore: people will prefer to do business with people they view as relaxed, friendly and attentive.
However, always keep in mind that you’re not actually socialising. As the author and CEO Christine Comaford-Lynch put it, “Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for.”
A good rule of thumb is this: if you’re enjoying yourself too much, you’re not doing it right. Remember, you’re there on business. It can be enjoyable, but enjoyment is not the point.
In the previous post on this subject, we stated that nobody buys anything at networking events – the task is to progress towards the place where business gets done. In the next part, we’ll look at how to begin that journey.
More Small Business Guide
Try these tips to build your contact list, improve your networking skills and grow your business.
Think of networking events not as one-off sales opportunities but as the foundations for new connections.