Join LinkedIn Learning Instructors for an in-depth discussion in this video Successfully Networking with New Contacts, part of 2-Minute Tips for Senior Leaders.
- A lot of people shy away from networking events, because they assume they'll have to make awkward small talk. But there are ways to cut through the banality, and create great new connections. I'm Dorie Clark. I teach for Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, and I'm the author of the E-book "Stand Out Networking." Here are three ways to build meaningful new relationships. First, whenever possible, research people in advance. It's not always feasible, but in some situations you're going to know who's at an event. Conferences often publish speaker lists, and sometimes lists of attendees.
So if they do, you can scan folks LinkedIn profile to find possible conversation starters. For instance, you might have worked at the same company in the past, or have gone to the same college. But even if you don't have the ability to research people in advance that's okay. A step we can always take is to converse with the goal of finding commonalities. That immediately shifts the person into seeing you as a peer or someone like them. It doesn't even have to be a profound connection. It could be living in the same neighborhood, or having kids the same age, or liking dogs, or having gone to the same school.
You can even start with the reason you're both at this event and work from there. A third strategy to make your conversations more meaningful is to find out what they're passionate about. You can ask the question, "What are you most excited about right now?" That gives the person the opportunity to steer the conversation to something they really care about. It could be work related or a hobby. Maybe they've just completed a great new project, or had their first child, or they've taken up hang gliding. Whatever it is, if you ask them about it with sincere curiosity you're likely to have a good conversation and spark a strong connection.
Try these strategies out at your next networking event. I hope they'll make your conversations flow even better so you can connect with great people.