Have Memorable Conversations
It is common for business people to miss great networking connections when they attend business events because they do not have memorable conversations. People mistakenly think that the attending the gathering and "schmoozing" is networking. WRONG! It is just meeting people. One conversation DOES NOT MAKE SOMEONE PART OF YOUR NETWORK. Real networking is about the follow up over following months or years.
So if the event itself is not networking, what is it? The business conference, cocktail party, luncheon, seminar or other gathering is just a tool to bring people together. It allows you an easy and relaxed atmosphere to have conversations.
Communication with others common. We encounter dozens of people everyday in all sorts of situations: At Starbucks, the dry cleaner, in Whole Foods, at sporting events, on airplanes, etc... The problem is that we meet so many people, that few stand out in our minds. We just forget them as soon as we walk away. The same is true in business. Most of the people you meet do not remember you the next day.
I know, nobody likes to think that they are just a "Plain Jane" (sorry to anyone named Jane)....as most of us think highly about ourselves and our own situations, we forget that we are simply not that important to others. However, once you accept the fact that you are not automatically memorable, you can find ways to make your interactions with others stand out from the crowd.
Here are four tips for being memorable:
1. Ask questions. Because people are usually more concerned with their own life, career, family and personal interests....they will find the conversation more memorable if you talk about them. Develop a series of questions that you can ask people that will lead them to tell you their story. In the city I live (Austin, Texas), more than half of the business professionals have moved here over the past 15 years (yes, the city has doubled in size!). In fact, it doubled again the previous 15 years, which means that it is rare to find someone who was born in Austin. A great question is "How long have you lived in Austin?". This can then lead to more questions about where they came from, what college they attended, etc... It is very easy to start a conversation where the other person will share their whole life story, all stemming from one question.
2. Stay informed on current affairs. While you do not want to talk about religion, politics, or any other controversial topic with those you just met, you do need to be sure that you are up on the current news stories. Often the media will hype celebrities or other pop-culture topics that you might not feel are important. But if they are in the news, you should be aware of them. I recommend that you get your news from a variety of sources, so that you have a good mix of all the topics that are being discussed by folks. Newspapers, cable news, the internet, radio, etc... I also suggest that you skim People magazine (or something similar) when you are in the check out line of the grocery store. I could care less that Paris Hilton is going to jail, but it is important to know the basics of the story. I realize that it takes time, but you don't want to appear that you only focus on business or sports if a popular culture topic comes up in a conversation.
3. Explain your business. Have a short and upbeat way to describe what you do when the discussion does move toward you. Be able to explain your job to others in just a couple of sentences. Make sure that your excitement comes through. If you just say "I sell insurance" you will be forgotten. However, if you respond with "I love my job because I sell insurance that helps families have peace of mind", that might warrant a few brain cells to recall you in the future.
4. Follow up. Be the person who follows up with those you meet. Do not wait for the other person to remember you, put yourself back in front of them within a few days of your initial conversation. Send an email, call them on the phone or mail a handwritten note. By tactfully reminding them about your meeting, you make yourself more memorable for both the short term and the long term. If you wait for them to contact you or for the next time you bump into eachother, you will be forgotten.
Have A Great Day.