By Kim Miller-Hershon
Maybe “Stop Word Vomit Now” should be my new tagline for my business. I’m kidding. I do a lot of networking and here’s the thing – I observe (and experience) people doing wackadoodle (that’s the technical term) things all the time that are absolutely going to lose them connections and business, instead of making them.
Here’s my question to you, “Have you been at an event and introduced yourself and then, before you have a chance to say another word, they start their word vomiting?” Here’s what word vomiting sounds like… “Hi Kim, I’m Hilda and I sell vitamins in fact my vitamins are the best in the world they are all organic and they are backed by research that only my company has done in the Amazon Rain Forest we source these vitamins from native people we pay a fair wage to and we love all people in the world – would you like to buy some?”
It feels like an assault, instead of a conversation. My first thought is “breathe”. OK, that’s probably not my first thought, and I don’t think I can write my first thought without being censored.
I’m assuming you would NEVER do this yourself and if you do, my advice to you is STOP. Stop now.
What should you do instead?
Here is the golden rule of networking: GIVE more than you get. Be a connector.
Go to networking events with the idea, and attitude, that you are there to help other people make connections, and grow their business. It is rarely, if ever, appropriate to sell at a networking event.
Your goal for the event should be one – five substantive conversations where the person will remember you afterwards. Then, for goodness sake, follow through on any introductions or commitments you made.
Also, use the 80/20 rule, where you talk 20% of the time, and they talk 80%. Your 20% should be mostly made up of really good questions. In addition, when they ask you a question, answer with a short answer and then turn it back over to them. It might sound something like this, “Hi Kim, what do you do?” “Jerry, thanks for asking. I work with mid-market companies who have the challenge of managers who are promoted because of their technical skill, and they don’t know how to manage people. I train them, and the company typically sees a minimum of a 15% increase in productivity. What’s your experience with manager training?”
I promise you will make meaningful connections and grow your business networking this way.