There is much more to successful networking than spending days on LinkedIn or attending networking events.
Transitioning a conversation from a social chat to one focused on business is a fantastic skill to have and downright essential for sales and business development roles. However, just like any skill, it requires training and practice to become a reliable part of the conversation toolkit.
Therefore, we’ve brought together helpful tips to ensure that even a chance meeting can potentially evolve into a business opportunity.
Find Common Ground
Human nature suggests that no matter who you speak to, there’s every chance you’ll have something in common. Merely paying attention to the small talk can give anyone the seed of an idea. It could be a news event or a passing comment on the weather.
Zero in on what has their attention right now and use it as the basis for common opinions.
Their natural reaction will be to assume that you’re both on the same wavelength. It can create an empathetic response and buys you more time to steer the conversation in the desired direction.
Establish What They Do
Not every social encounter is a pitching opportunity. Some industries are just incompatible, and the earlier you understand where everyone’s coming from, the sooner you can select the best course of action.
This is a particularly convenient tool as asking what someone does for a living, more often than not, will result in them asking the same. That’s a classic gateway into turning the conversation to business.
Learn the Elevator Pitch
Most employers have an elevator pitch. If they don’t, there’s no better time than now to create one, even if only for your benefit.
As the name suggests, this pitch covers what you’d say to someone in the time it takes to travel between a few floors. Every second counts in these scenarios, and there’s value in knowing where you want to take the discussion when the opportunity arises.
Finish Their Sentences
Think of this tip metaphorically. Some people hate it when someone chimes in while they’re talking! Nevertheless, indicating that you know what someone thinks before they say it can build trust and make for incredible bonding moments.
This is particularly handy in professions whereby someone already works with an individual in the same field. From plumbers to gardeners and accountants to personal trainers, pre-empting their response when you mention what you can open doors.
Subtly Pique Their Interest
People don’t tend to expect to be sold to when they enter social situations. Part of the skill involves selling without being obvious about it.
Drop in facts and figures from your industry when the conversation enables it. Stay on top of what your company does better than the competition. No matter what you do, if you can do it faster, better, or for a lower price than their current supplier, a quick chat suddenly becomes a lead.
Talking business in social settings is all about judgment. It is often better to wait for an opportunity than to force one. Even then, it’s vital to think as a friend, not as a salesperson. That doesn’t necessarily mean waiting to be asked – steering the conversation and creating that opportunity is all part of the same skillset.