Friday, April 9, 2010

Can You Network at Social Gatherings?

Everyone expects to do business networking at Chamber of Commerce meetings and other business mixers. But what about events that are not "for business?"

Summer presents us with so many opportunities to meet people:

* Graduation parties
* Wedding receptions
* Class reunions
* Backyard barbecues
* Charity run/walk events

Can you network for business at these events? You can do it ethically only if you approach it as connecting, not prospecting. This is really the way you should always network, by the way! It seems slower, but is more effective in the long run.

Keep in mind that every person knows about 250 people on average, so each new person you meet has the potential to connect you to 250 more you might not have otherwise met. You don't want to give up that opportunity! But you also don't want to come across as a pushy salesperson.

True networking, building relationships, involves talking about the other person 99% of the time. You only answer questions about yourself briefly, then turn the conversation back to them. You get the other person to talk by asking open-ended questions. The questions you ask at a social event might need to be different than the ones you ask at a business mixer.

At a business mixer, you normally would ask the other person what business they are in and how they got started.

At a social mixer, the questions can be tailored to the type of event:

* Neighborhood barbecue: How long have you lived here? What brought you to this area?

* Graduation party: How did you meet the host? Did you watch this great kid grow up?

* Class reunion: What have you been doing all these years?

* Wedding reception: Are you a friend of the bride or groom? How did you meet them?

* Charity walk/run: Do you run (or walk) often or is this your first event?

One big tendency at social events is to hang out with the people you already know. Of course you must say "hello" so as not to offend them, but you want to meet new people too!

One caution: they might ask what you do, and what if they say they need your product or service? Most people would immediately hand them a business card and set an appointment! But in his book "Endless Referrals" Bob Burg admonishes you not to do that.

Since people buy from people they know, like, and trust, Bob advises you to turn the conversation back to them and make sure you really have a relationship built before you attempt to get a business transaction going.

Perhaps the most tricky part will be how to stay in touch with this person later. What you should try to do in the conversation is find out some way you can help them.

It could be potential business referrals, or an introduction to one of your business associates for them or their child or spouse, or helping them find a product or service they need. If you have suggested a way you might help them, they should be willing to tell you how to contact them.

So have fun meeting some new people at your summer events!

By : Dale_Reynolds

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