The Lost Art of Networking

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For most of my life, I have always been fascinated with communication dynamics

Not just in networking, but in life. What is good communication? And how does that translate to good networking? What are the skills that I would advise need developing the most?

There is one skill that not many people have in great abundance from what I have seen from my own experience. Not just in business either. Mobile technology has put the world at our fingertips, but at what cost?

Sometimes at networking events after everyone has done their “60 seconds” I stand up and ask how many people remember what 3 or more people do for their business. Usually between 5-10% people put their hands up. I then say that I will be calling people out on it and making them state the 3 businesses that they remember. This usually sees around half of those hands go down.

I find it incredible that so many people remember so little about business pitches, until I remembered that people buy people. Also, most 60 second pitches are boring and safe. They do not venture into anything interesting or memorable, thus rendering most of them as a complete waste of time.

Ask yourself this: of all the business pitches that you have heard, what stands out and why? I’m guessing that you remember pitches that were either funny, quirky, containing a personal fact or two about the person (rather than the business that they are pitching) or short. Or indeed, a combination of all of the above.

So, what is the only purpose of a 60-second pitch?

As far as I can see, there is only 1 purpose for this: to give people a reason to want to continue the conversation. For this reason every pitch you give must have a strong call to action. And something like “If you would like to know more about how I can help you to get funded, come and have a chat after and I’ll buy you a drink” is far more personable than “Adam Shaw- Helping you to get funded.”

I have seen and met many people who are fairly good speakers, yet awful at communication

How is this possible I hear you ask? Well, let me ask you this….would you rather spend your time networking with good speakers, or good listeners? Research shows consistently that listening is the skill that most people prefer. Good listening is not just about being quiet, it’s also about asking questions that show people that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying.

So often I see people interrupt me or others in networking events because they have thought of something that they believe is so important that it can’t wait for the person speaking to finish what they are saying

I have friends who do this to me occasionally. It is exhausting! I allow it because they are my friends and don’t do it all of the time. In networking environments I have been caught with people who see one question as a licence to talk indefinitely about their business, or themselves. I have found this particular trait to be the one most likely to end a relationship before it even begins.

Distractions are everywhere

You may be having a great chat with someone as you network and suddenly someone else marches into your conversation and starts talking over you. This has happened to me on several occasions. If you are joining a group who are already chatting during a networking event, do yourself and them a favour by staying silent until you are invited to introduce yourself. Your arrival in the group does not entitle you to interrupt them!

Maybe someone’s phone goes off and their first reaction is to stop the conversation to check the phone. This can be very distracting. I also see groups chatting where nobody seems to be able to finish a sentence because someone thinks that their insights/quick wit/interruptions are way more important than what you have to say. It can sometimes become an issue even trying to finish a sentence.

This dynamic is common with groups of friends in a pub, but not so welcome in a business networking environment. Being stuck with the person who continuously interrupts you and talks with no charisma indefinitely is a nightmare!

So, stop trying to sell your business and start by selling yourself…as someone who is interested in what other people have to say….because when you come across as interested, you will become infinitely more interesting to those who you are looking to sell to.

To test that in action, why not join me at one of my events

 

 

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