How can networking be different? Isn’t it all about meeting people and looking for ways to help each other in business? Well, yes but….how you do that can be significantly altered. How do you connect? The Swap The Biz philosophy on networking is all about connecting socially first, for the purpose of business. It is actually quite simple and I am sure after reading this you will agree that it makes sense.
Typically, the first question we ask at a networking event is what? “So, what do you do for a living?”. Now, in theory it makes perfect sense – I need to know what the person does, so I can try and help them by making the right introductions. Yes, you need to know, but not right away!!! Asking someone what they do is the worst first question that you can ask. It is time to change your approach and try to connect with people socially. Our philosophy is to first try and develop a relationship, then take that to a friendship which will give you the trust factor that we are all seeking in business. It is at that point that you can now help each other in business.
The question of “What do you do?” is bad because we are social creatures, and while the technicalities of your job are exciting for you, they will not generally resonate with anybody else that is not in your industry. So, the problem is that as soon as you start to drone on about your job, you have already lost the other person. They’re not paying attention. However, if you start talking about sports, travel, fine wine, etc. these are topics that are at a minimum interesting, so that the other person will pay attention, maybe their will be some commonalities or at least it’s fodder to have a conversation. This is how you will connect. Once you have connected, it will be so much easier to look to the opportunities to help each other in business.
So how do you get to know someone at an event? We like to focus on humanizing the networking. What are the right questions? Ask them if they have been on a recent vacation or if they have any getaways upcoming. How about a simple “Can you get over this weather?”. That one is almost universal as the weather is always changing and is an easy introductory topic, (so write that one down!!). Also, check out our Top 10 Networking Questions post for other great questions that you can use.
The other issue with focusing on your business first is the question of why – as in why do I even want to help this person I just met and I know nothing about. However, if we just found out we have the same fitness regimen, like the same local restaurants or both have the same age kids playing soccer – now you have moved out of the total stranger zone and the parallels in our lives allow you to begin to trust them. Congrats you have just humanized networking and you will see an immediate increase in the amount of relationships you are able to develop in networking by focusing the conversation at the start on connecting socially!