Business Networking Skills for Conventions and Meetings
By Debra Fine
Do you dread networking events, open houses and other business related social events? Does attending another open house make you want to run inside your own and lock the door? For business professionals, these occasions represent opportunities to develop business friendships and broaden networks. Here are a few techniques business people can use to improve their small talk skills:
- Be the first to say “Hello!” and introduce yourself. Act as if you’re the host and introduce new arrivals to your conversational partner or partners.
- Get somebody to talk about why they’re attending the event and you’re on your way to engaging them in conversation.
- Listen carefully for information that can keep the conversation going.
- Play the conversation “game”. When someone asks, “How’s business?” or “What’s going on?” Answer with more than “Not much”. Tell more about yourself so that others can learn more about you.
- Be careful with business acquaintances. You wouldn’t want to open a conversation with: “How’s your job at (fill in the blank)?” What if that person just got fired or laid off? Be careful when you’re asking about an acquaintance’s spouse or special friend: you could regret it.
- Don’t act like you’re an F.B.I. agent. Questions like: “What do you do?” “Are you married?” “Do you have children?” and “Where are you from?” lead to dead end conversations.
- Show an interest in your conversational partner’s opinion, too. You’re not the only person who has opinions about interest rates and Alan Greenspan, imposing sales tax on Internet purchases, wearing white after Labor Day, the merits of the Atkins, South Beach and Weight Watcher’s diets.
- Be prepared with exit lines. You do need to move around and meet others.
- Every encounter involves risk. As long as you keep looking for new people to meet, and you show an interest in other people, you can develop business friendships and enjoy lively conversations.