I attended an event at the local chamber of commerce today. It was more or less a workshop on Networking 101, and it made me think of the importance of good old face to face meetings… remember them?
I know that we’re supposed to use all this technology we have at hand, and I have to admit it’s great. Social media, blogging, websites, webinars… all good stuff. But, there’s a lot to be said for getting to know someone’s handshake. It’s very cool to see their facial expressions. There’s something special about laughing together at something funny, as opposed to typing “lol” or my favorite “Hahaha”.
There is a ton of information out there about networking. The presentation I went to today was very informative and enjoyable. I was, of course, networking at the networking presentation. lol
Years ago, I was reading about networking, and I loved this piece of advice. Don’t network by talking about yourself. Network by listening and asking questions. The premise is… If you’re interested in other people, they will find you interesting. That is, ask them about their business. Follow up with a question about what they just told you, or a general business question.
I’ve found this to be true, for the most part. Of course, you want to answer questions, but focus on listening. Yes, your elevator speech is important. But not as important as using your active listening skills when they are giving you their elevator speech. After all, you already know about yourself.
Something I picked up today and I thought was great. When you’re at a networking event, you might be feeling weird about talking to people you don’t know. Notice the person that’s off to the side, feeling awkward like you, and talk to them. You’ll both feel relieved, and you won’t have to worry about interrupting a conversation.
Think of ways to be a matchmaker with people who you meet. Introduce them to each other. Consider strategic pairings… power partners. Once you’ve met people who can complement each other’s businesses, put them in touch.
How do you feel about networking in person? Is it a thing of the past, or does it still have value in today’s business environment?