One thing’s for sure - networking is not for wallflowers! Everyone, but especially those on the shy side, need to practise talking and listening so they can become better conversationalists.

All things being equal, people like to do business with friends. When things are not quite so equal, people still like to do business with friends.

The question you have to ask is: How can each person benefit as a result of connecting with me?

The conversation starters you ask the people you meet at networking functions always need to be about them and never, ever about how you can find a way to sell them something!

Take serious note: this is not just about business networking. This is a life strategy to use with anyone, anywhere and anytime. Real opportunities lie in your ability to build very effective and meaningful relationships with key contacts who can and will identify new opportunities for you, be those personal or business.

Back to business networking. During the first part of the conversation, only talk about the other person. Ask them what they do and how their business is doing. Think of areas you are uncertain about within your business and ask how they handle this. For example asking “How do you find new customers? is a conversation starter that may even give you some new ideas!

Want more articles like this? Check out the business networking section.

Here are four great conversation starters:

  • “Hi, what business/industry are you in?”
  • “What do you enjoy most about it?”
  • “How did you get into it?”
  • “Who are you looking to connect with today?”

Spend a little time with each new prospect. Listen and learn. Soon, you'll have a whole room who can't wait to talk to you, and of course you won't mind that at all, will you?

Business networking is really simple. You can make the most of it by:

  • Recognising that everyone you meet is a potential, useful network contact.
  • Creating “win, win” opportunities to give and receive favours.
  • Practising the “give without expectation” philosophy of great networkers.
  • Operating with complete integrity.

Do you have any conversation starters or tips that work for you? Share them via a comment.

“ What you ask the people you meet at networking functions always need to be about them and never, ever about how you can find a way to sell them something! ”
 
Jack Fraenkel

Jack Fraenkel is a business improver and people developer with a flair for customer service who passionately believes that service intensive companies tend to invest in employee success first.

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