How to Improve Your Networking Skills
I remember a networking event I attended a while back that was absolutely fantastic. I met lots of interesting people, handed out a bunch of business cards, and had terrific conversations (at least, I thought so) with fellow business owners where I felt we really connected. I left that experience so excited about the business that was about to pour in...all the new clients…the fruit from the relationships I had just established…
The actual result?
Has that ever happened to you?
The following questions are designed to dig a little deeper and make the most out of whatever networking opportunities you have. But feel free to add them to your conversation no matter where you are. The neat thing about these simple questions (no, we’re not talking rocket science here) is that by asking them, you’ll most likely get a chance to answer them, too. Because they differ from the “standard” networking queries, you’ll be getting a clearer picture of who to send to the business owners in your network - and they will be learning the same for you as well.
1 - What do you love about what you do?
Rather than “What do you do?” This question lets you know more than just what their products and services are. (You know, their “elevator pitch.”) It lets you know what really excites them and where their passions lie…and often, what they’re actually best at. Someone may have a hard time talking about what they’re best at, for lots of different reasons. But get them started talking about what they love to do and you’re golden! You’ll immediately start to see in your mind the perfect person - perhaps one of your clients - they can serve.
2 - Who do you love working with?
Or, “Tell me about your favorite customer or client you’ve ever worked with.” These questions reveal a deeper answer to the “who is your ideal client” question. It encourages a visual description…why are they their favorite? What do they love about them? Pro-tip: Take some time to answer this question for yourself before asking someone else! Think about your own favorite client and what made them that way… (I give my own answer to this question at 4:58.)
3 - What do you charge?
Yes, I went there. But this is networking, and you have to know this in order to send the right people their way. If the business owner you’re talking to is not in your field, you may be totally unfamiliar with what they charge or how their pricing or fees work. And you’d be doing both the business owner and your referral a disservice (not to mention creating an awkward situation) without knowing that key piece of information ahead of time. Alternate forms of this question might be “Can you help me understand how your fees work?” Or “Can you help me understand how you charge your clients/customers?” “What do the fees look like for your amazing service?” Answering this question for yourself will help you build confidence in your services and pricing, too. It’s crucial to your success with sales to be able to answer this question and be clear and proud about the value that you offer. (I share an example of why this is so important at 8:26.)
Adding these questions to your toolbox will give you a powerful boost and help you truly serve the people in your business network as well as the clients or customers whom you serve. They encourage genuine responses and help you build authentic relationships in your business. Pro-tip: this might require some practice, so go ahead and start using these questions right now, in your normal conversation.
At the end of the day, remember that networking isn’t only about the benefits you will receive, or even the benefits you can offer your networking partners. It’s also, and just as importantly, about your clients and customers. They are your business and they are who you’re here to serve!
But before you do anything else, go ahead and take a break and do something fun and restful, because, as we all know: good rest fuels great work!
If we haven’t met already on Instagram, please reach out @coachaliciabyers
And feel free to dm me and ask me for my other networking resources!