Networking is by far the best vehicle for building businesses, careers and your circle of influence. For many entrepreneurs and business leaders their comfort zone must be expanded to overcome interpersonal shyness.
It is through networking that we find advice on personal and business challenges, learn of job opportunities, and develop new business. Yet to many, the social aspects of networking events are far outside their comfort zone. Whether it is shyness, introversion, or a lack of confidence in what to say, many at a networking event will gravitate to people they know and loss the opportunity to meet new people.
If you are among these people, it is probably safe to say that your shyness or introversion has helped you build tremendous listening skills. This listening strength is a great weapon for you during networking events. The main problem you are probably having is that you are so focused on your discomfort with talking to strangers that you forget how great it is to be in a conversation with you.
That's right! Great listeners are fun to converse with because they allow the other person to do the talking. People love to talk about themselves.
Utilize this listening strength to get the other person talking to you with just a few words coming out of your most. The secret is to ask an open-ended question. An open-ended question is one that cannot be answered with a number of the words "yes" and "no".
Here are some examples:
- What kind of work do you do?
- How did you get into that field?
- What do you like most about it?
- What do you find most challenging?
- If you had a magic wand, what one thing at work or home would you change?
These questions will get you in a conversation where you will be able to do what you do best - listen. As they open up they are very likely to touch on something that you like to talk about. When that happens, talking will be easier for you. Until this happens a gentle nod or "oh" will make you a great conversationalist in their eyes and they will want to be around you.
Eventually the conversation will get back to you, but do not dwell on that. By the time it happens your comfort level will have risen to the point you will be okay with it.
So the next time you are at a chamber, Local Business Network (LBN), BNI, or Motor City Connect networking event, remember the five questions.
©2014 Max Impact, used with permission.
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