Network With Impact 5/7: How To Be Liked And Why It Matters
Networking with Impact is interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts. It is especially designed to further one's career or business.
Your purpose of interaction is clear. To advance towards your purpose you will need to meet, greet and be liked by the people you come in contact with.
Being liked matters
You care about being appreciated because people are influenced by people they like. Wanting to be liked is strength. Needing to be liked is weakness. Not caring is short-sighted and would not work in Networking with Impact.
First, let’s break the ice
Imagine you are the guest at an Oil and Petrol Industry event in Texas. The first part of the evening is a Rodeo demonstration.
Then, you meet someone wearing a hat with Stampede strings, a large belt buckles and Cow-Boy boots. Would you break the ice stating that “USA should get their act together with Gun control?”
How do you break the ice without sounding too boring? or avoiding crossing the line of a Taboo topic that could be controversial?
Option one, is to go for the “neutral” F.O.R.D Technique. This acronym is handy for making small talk relating to safe enough topics: F- Family, O-Occupation, R- Recreation and D- Dreams.
Option two, giving a sincere compliment is always a good way to start things off with a new contact. Find something that you appreciate or admire and let that show in your voice. Don't hold back! You can complement something they work on, their personality, and their sense of style. But please, avoid comments on their Anatomy. It is not the best choice. Furthermore, it would signal an interest unrelated to business opportunities!
Here are for you only a couple of icebreaker ideas:
“The classics” icebreakers
“Hi! I'm new to the company/network and don't know many people here. Mind if I introduce myself?”
“These Networking events can be so intimidating. Is it OK if I introduce myself to have a friendly face in the crowd?”
“That is a fantastic [article of clothing or piece of jewelry]!
Location conversation starters
“I've never been to this [hotel, bar, event space, etc.] before. How about you?”
“On a scale of 1 to 10, how is the Chardonnay?”
“What is your favourite appetizer so far?”
“The unexpected” icebreakers
“What do you do for fun during the holidays?”
“Who do you think is the luckiest person in this room?”
“If you could put a billboard anywhere in the world, what would it say?”
Personally, I like to go to Networking events alone, meaning that I cannot go back to the safety of a friend. I try to spot someone who is alone too (usually by the buffet or a standing table) and start there. First, I ask if it is OK to join. Second, the follow up question is related to why they are here, or "what lead them to attend this event". The conversation is natural. It requires very little effort.
Second, listen more, talk less
Dale Carnegie said: « You can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”
Hence, a “listen more and talk less” strategy can help you create meaningful connection.
Being a good listener will set you apart from the rest of the pack.
Now, here comes the science.
To hear is a sense, but to listen is Physiological. One happens without us doing anything, the other requires attention.
Active listening skills include:
- Making eye contact
- Have an engaged body posture (head slightly tilted to show you are listening)
- Not distracted by anything else,
- You can give feedback and paraphrase what you understood
- You are shutting down your internal voice and judgement.
It is exhausting!
When you give your undivided attention to someone, you definitively make an impression!
To all the extroverts out there, I have a challenge for you. Try that for the next event. Say as little as possible and only ask questions. You will be surprised by how positively people will remember you. The introverts are going to thrive doing it!
This is the fifth time you read me! I would love to hear about your personal experience with your best ice breaker. Why don’t you email me and tell me what works for you! You will get a special mentioned in the article next monthwhen I write about “how to be generous for free”.
Cécile Bastien Remy is an international corporate communication & presentation skills trainer, TEDx & Keynote Speaker.