Debbie Mayo-Smith international inspirational motivational how-to speaker technology, time management, improving business performance
Motivational Speakers, Sales, Marketing, Time Management, Productivity, Technology, Tips

Learn to mingle and expand your network

Done properly, networking can be very rewarding. It's an effective tool to grow your business, as well as an excellent method of building relationships in a large company.

Yet it is so often done badly or not at all, either because it is taken for granted or is too difficult. I can relate to this. While my children are constantly yelling at me for talking to what they call "random strangers", put me in a room of strangers and even this gregarious New Yorker freezes up.

The key to successful networking is to help yourself get comfortable in a room filled with strangers, then make sure you network all the time. Approach every social situation with the positive thought of "Who will I meet here?"

Networking isn't about selling and it isn't about promoting yourself in an aggressive manner. It is the art of engaging someone in conversation that ultimately leads to a mutually beneficial relationship. It is that simple. And you never know, you may make a few friends along the way.

Here are 10 tips for becoming a delightful person to mingle with.

* Smile and say: "Tell me about your business". Use your own words, of course, but it works like a charm for me. People love to talk about themselves; they're pleased, flattered and surprised you asked and it's a great way to start a conversation.

* Read the newspaper every day. Even if you skim and read only the top paragraph, you'll have something to talk about with everyone. You'll be able to quote articles that relate to the person you're conversing with.

Use the internet to gather information to help you get to know your host and any guests you want to meet. This takes just a few moments but gives you the leading edge, with something knowledgeable to talk about.

* This tip, as well as the next three, I learnt from the queen of networking, Robyn Henderson. She says every networking event has three zones of influence and where you stand will dictate who you may meet. Zone 1 is closest to the registration desk and is where most people hang out. Zone 2, in the middle, is where regulars are. Zone 3 - furthest away from the registration and up front by the stage or projector - is where the key players are (unless they are on duty meeting and greeting).

* When you get an invitation to a conference, seminar or networking event, don't decide whether or not to go based solely on the speaker or topic. Instead, think about who is going to be there: peers, customers, competition, prospects. This will make these functions much more attractive because of who you can meet, network with and learn from.

* People will think you're interesting if you ask them interesting questions. Here's a trick: Move from past to present to future questions. For example: Past - "So you've been with the company for 10 years. What changes have you seen?" Present - "What challenges do you have?" Future - "What trends do you foresee?"

* Try to spend at least five minutes with each person. This gives enough time for the connection to be made. The exception is if the person starts looking at their watch or around the room. In that case, it is better for you to break away gracefully.

* If you're speaking with someone and want to move on, look for another person or group nearby. Say: "Oh, that person (or group) looks interesting. Let's ask them to join us". Then act like a host and introduce the person you are with, stating their name and an interesting piece of information about them as a talking point. As they start to chat, make your exit.

* Studies show people often forget the first 15 seconds of a conversation, so they have already forgotten who you are. At a natural pause in the conversation casually drop in: "You may not have caught my name earlier. It is ..."

* Keep your business cards in your pocket. When the time is right you don't want to spend five minutes hunting through your handbag or briefcase.

* Perhaps the single most important thing you can do after meeting someone is send a quick note the next day (or an email if you don't have the time). This catapults you in front of the crowd as few people bother to do it.

By taking the time to follow up and write, it highlights that you not only remembered the conversation but really valued it. It also reminds the person of who you are and what you do.

Debbie Mayo-Smith (BSc Hons Econ) is an International Motivational Business Speaker and Managing Director of SuccessIS! ( and a leading specialist in easy practical ways to improve business profitability, personal productivity and Internet marketing. Debbie lives in NZ and travels the world speaking, writing and training. By the way, if you'd like to get lots of neat tricks like this, plus marketing and business development tips, why not enrol for our free newsletter?

This article is copyright to Debbie Mayo-Smith & SuccessIS. You may use it for your newsletter, website or as an article. It can be reproduced - but in its entirety and with inclusion of Debbie Mayo-Smith as the author and the weblink


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