Thursday, 21 May 2009

Business networking Conversation Starters

Conversation is the key to business networking, and it starts by showing an interest in the other person. Here are some of my favourite conversation starters and follow on questions...
  • What business are you in?
  • How did you get into that business?
  • What do you enjoy most about it?
  • What kind of people do you like to do business with?
  • I bet you have some stories to tell? Only ask if person is in an industry where this is likely to be true
These questions allow the other person to talk about themselves. At some point, s/he is likely to ask you what you do. This is your chance to shine. Consider the difference between these 2 answers...
  1. I'm an online lead generation expert. I find ways to turn casual visitors into serious business enquiries
  2. I get you the people who are ready to say yes
The first is a technically accurate, and encapsulates what I do. It's a more complete description.

The second doesn't fully explain what I do, but packs far more emotional punch. It provides an obvious follow-on question that most people will ask. It is more engaging, and generates more interest in my service.

I strongly recommend you develop a similar one-sentence pitch that speaks directly to the outcome your service delivers, rather than providing a technical description.


a said...

Good points man!
I love to ask someone what they do, and where they are from etc... Gives them the need to HAVE to know what I'm about, since they just gave me so much personal information!

Wayne Davies said...

Thanks for your feedback. Here's another great idea I got from Jason Cobine, probably the best networker I know.

When meeting somebody for a one-to-one, he doesn't talk about what he does or how great he is. Instead, he find outs what career generates the best referrals for the other person. For example, I get my best referrals from web designers and developers.

He would then set up an appointment for me with at least one person in his network that fits the bill (he has a large network...check out his LinkedIn contacts for example).

When telling the person he has an appointment for them, he asks them to promise they'll call him back and let him know how it went. If it all went well, he then asks to be introduced to their accountant (the person who gives him his best referrals). This targeted approach to networking has made him a very successful man.