A Networking Observation

Yesterday I went to a networking event for lunch. There were about 80 people there and we were assigned to tables with 8 at each table. The conversation was good, but superficial throughout the lunch. The typical question was directed at the name of the company on the name tag. “Tell me about XYZ company?” or “What do you do at XYZ?”

Then the event director introduced an activity. We went around the table and each of us had two minutes to answer a personal question and then 2 minutes to talk about what we do professionally.

The personal question was either “What is a mistake you have made in the past?” or “What has been a memorable sporting event for you?”

I don’t think it mattered what the personal questions were but the interesting thing that happened was when people began to open up and talk about personal things, the mood, conversation and connection at the table changed. People were laughing and interacting more naturally. They were interested and engaged. It was no longer superficial, it was genuine.

When we can talk to people personally and not just professionally – we connect. When we open up personally – others can relate. When we are vulnerable and real we allow others to be the same and we bond.

Just some food for thought at your next networking event 🙂


4 Responses

  1. So true and it’s a great lesson for people who hate selling but need to make a living (a.k.a. most people).

    So, don’t sell.

    Of course, know your “elevator speech” for when people ask but focus on getting to know people. Give compliments and ask questions that start a conversation.

    Try these: “Do you live in the area?” “I love your pin / purse / ring / hat / briefcase. Where did you get it?” “I’ve seen you work. How did you become so good?” “How long have you been a member of [this group]?”

    In other words, go out and make some friends. Build relationships. Sure, mention what you do and share a business card – and then get on with creating a new friendship.

  2. I have been having more fun in the last few weeks just walking up to people and getting a conversation started over the easiest of subjects! This is a great tool and adds to my “new” list of friends I am making at the same time. Thank you and I look forward to more words of wisdom! Tedi

  3. Truly as it is Ty. Get people comfortable, at the level where they are themselves, and that’s when they are talking about, well, themselves. But lets dig deeper, and explore the person within, not just the business person. If you do ask them a question, ask them “How did you get into this business?”. I give credit to my networking guru of a friend, Bob Burg for that.

    In my personal posterous blog recently, I mentioned that with all the technology that we have, its so crucial that we don’t get caught up in our own little cubicle, or office world, that we need to go out and connect with people. Connect with them in a human level.

    So next time you’re out networking, don’t forget, that business person in front of you, is a live breathing human being, with passions, creativity, and so much more. Open yourself, like Ty says, and a world of opportunity can open up. Happy connecting!!!

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