The idea of “networking” can often make people freeze up. How do I do it? Where do I start? And small talk is difficult! What if I’m not good at it?!
I hear ya. But networking is a critical aspect of career development, and the good news is you can strike up conversation anywhere. Here are five places to give it a go. And of course, don’t forget the power of social networking too.
Once you engage in conversation, the best strategy is to employ the six most important words in networking: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW.
The six words demonstrate maturity, selflessness and a natural curiosity. They prove you can set yourself aside and be genuinely interested in another person’s life. And perhaps through all your questions, you’ll find new ways to connect or advance your career.
WHO should I talk to like this?
Anyone. A stranger at a happy hour, someone you’ve asked to meet for coffee or even a random person you sit next to on a plane. Everyone else knows something you don’t. Why spend the entire time talking? What will you learn? [TWEET THIS]
Sample question: Who are some of your clients?
WHAT do I talk about?
You talk about what the other person wants to talk about. Let he/she guide the conversation. If he says, “I like my job, but it can be tough at times,” then you come right back with “What makes it tough?”
Sample question: What kind of projects are you working on?
WHEN is the most appropriate time?
Anytime. People love to talk about themselves. In fact, they’ll probably give you as much info as you can handle. They think: “You’re curious about what I do for a living? Of course I’ll blab about it!”
Sample question: When did you decide to focus on that aspect of your career?
WHERE are the best places?
Anywhere, but specifically situations where you could aid your career. Networking events, work conferences and job interviews are great places to give the six words a whirl.
Sample question: Where do you go most often for work? Do you travel?
WHY is it such an effective strategy?
With each question, you take the conversation deeper and build trust. Plus, if you two find a way to network further, the person is more likely to help because he likes you — and all you did was let him ramble on about himself!
Sample question: Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree?
HOW do I keep up all the questions?
You listen intently. You stay in the moment, absorb what the person has to say and come back with a thoughtful response.
Sample question: How did you start your own business? What was the process?
In conversation, our instinct is to dive right in and say, “Well, I…”
But you…you’re smarter than that. You understand the power of WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY and HOW.
Those six words allow you to forge relationships, broaden your knowledge and create new career opportunities.
When you focus on others, the world starts to shift in your favor. [TWEET]
What’s your networking strategy? Share below!