The goal of your first brief networking interaction with a stranger is to begin to answer the question “Is this person someone I want to get to know better; someone who can help me … or who I can help?” To do that, you need information.
- Tell less and ask more. Ask good questions. While casual chitchat is harmless and fun, it takes time away from finding out about the other person. Cut to the chase with a simple “What do you do?” or “What’s new at Glitztronics?”
- Talk less and listen more. Don’t dominate the conversation. If you talk too much, you may make a negative impression. And you can’t learn anything when you’re talking.
- Be ready with your ‘Elevator Speech’, your 15-second commercial – not an infomercial! Describe what you do very briefly and positively. Use outcome-based language – It’s not what you do, but how others benefit from what you do. Make it interesting enough so the other person will want to ask you some questions.
- Watch the time. Keep the focused conversation to less than three minutes. If you spend too much time, both of you might miss opportunities to meet other people.
- If you’ve learned enough to conclude you’d like to get to know the person better, ask if you can follow up with a short phone call in a few days.
By networking with a focused script, you’ll reinforce your positive first impression and learn what you need to know for effective follow up. That’s how to network like a pro.