Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Have you ever wanted to network with someone at a conference or other event, but you were too nervous to talk to them?
I know it can be hard to come up with something to say in the moment.
Recently, I was talking to a good friend, and we realized this issue comes up at business conferences ALL THE TIME.
During our conversation, I realized that my three-step Communication Code would be a great solution to this issue.
Let me break it down for you.
When I’m networking, one of my favorite questions to ask someone is: “What is a major challenge your company or team faces?”
After the person shares what that challenge is, try using my three-step Communication Code. It will keep the conversation going, AND you’ll demonstrate how you would be an asset to that person’s company or team.
The three steps of my Communication Code are:
1. Validate their experience
Start by acknowledging your networking contacts’ concerns. Let them know you understand their challenges are frustrating and you appreciate them sharing with you. This will help you build a connection right out of the gate.
For example, my friend is an executive functioning coach who specializes in helping young adults on the Autism spectrum. Here’s what she could say: “I am so glad you shared that with me. I know it can be so stressful to spend time and effort to try to get Johnny organized with his homework.”
2. Plant seeds of happiness
Give your networking contacts a “sigh-of-relief” (and pique their interest!) by letting them know you are going to provide them with solutions to their problems.
Try something like: “I specialize in helping young adults who are on the spectrum, and I’d love to help.”
3. Use an action statement
Explain how you would solve your contacts’ problems or point them to people who will. Boom! You’ve just demonstrated why you would be a valuable member of their team without being overly “salesy.”
My friend would say: “It would be really easy to set up a system so that Johnny has a 3-step process for doing his homework. Let’s set a time next week to talk about it.”
I get it. Networking can be nerve-racking.
Building rapport with a stranger? Some people would rather stand in the conference-room corner and stare into their phones.
But I don’t want you to ever miss out on an opportunity to connect with someone because you don’t know what to say. You never know where that connection might lead.
Try it! When everyone else is looking down at their phones, head over to that attendee/presenter/vendor that you’ve been dying to talk to, and strike up a conversation using my three-step Communication Code.
You’ll be more confident in your ability to carry on a conversation, and you’ll build deeper connections along the way.
I’m curious. Are you intimidated by networking events? How do you build meaningful connections with networking contacts? I want to hear from you!