1. Shift Your Perceptions of Networking
As children we heard, “Don’t talk to strangers.” As adults, we are asked to attend networking events and accost strangers with our business cards. This isn’t natural.
Our parents and teachers who didn’t want us talking to strangers encouraged us to make friends. Shift your artificial perception of networking to doing what you’ve been doing since childhood: meeting and making new friends.
You must also shift your perception of where to meet your new friends. As kids, we networked anywhere there was another kid. Natural networking takes place everywhere there are people. Look at all the places you go during the day: dropping off kids at school, the grocery store, the airport, the bank. View these places with a new set of eyes and make them your portable networking office. Make your office hours any time there is an opportunity to make a new friend.
2. Talk to Your New Friend
The easiest way to talk to a new friend is to ask questions and be genuinely interested. Children can’t help themselves from asking questions. As adults we must unleash our childlike curiosity.
Psychology 101 teaches, “The one asking the question is in control.” Take control of your destiny by asking questions. A simple, magic question that can start a meaningful conversation is, “You must love what you do, right?” To a new mother, you might say, “Oh, what an adorable baby, don’t you just love being a mom?” To a dentist, you might say, “Oh, you’re a dentist, you must love your work, right?” Ask the magic question in a caring manner and your new friend will respond openly and honestly. You will discover her needs or dissatisfactions. Either way, you have entry into a thoughtful conversation.
3. Make the Exchange
Once you have made a new friend, you’ll want to keep in touch. As kids, we just said, “Wanna come over to my house to play?” Friends naturally say, “Let’s keep in touch.” Ask for their contact information or business card. Simply say, “I’d like to keep in touch, got a card?”
Always carry business cards, and when you hear, “I don’t have a card,” say, “No problem, here’s one.” Because we’ve all been trained to make friends, most people will hand you their contact information without hesitation.
Natural networking is meeting and making new friends wherever you go, curiously asking questions and making sure you keep in touch. It’s exactly what you’ve done your whole live. Go out and make a new friend, today!
MAUREEN G. MULVANEY, better known as MGM, is the author of
The Women’s Millionaire Club. As an international professional speaker,
MGM teaches small businesses “How to Attract Paying Clients,
Who Become Lunatic Fans, That Refer Others.”