How to Network like a Pro... even if you hate small talk

Why do you network?

One mistake many people make is to go to a networking event for the wrong reason; that is they go to a networking meeting in order to sell something.

You don’t go to networking meetings to sell, you go to networking meetings to network.

Sounds a bit obvious right? But networking is not selling.

When we go to a networking event, we are looking to grow our network of contacts - people that we know, like and trust.

And networking works by the law of reciprocity… you get what you want when you help enough people get what they want.

You get what you want when you help enough other people get what they want
— Zig Ziglar

For example: in a few weeks I’m running a Speak with Confidence workshop at Fig Office in Swindon - you can’t come - it’s sold out. And I have not spent a penny promoting it!

Abbie Paginton from Fig offices has provided the venue and promoted my course to her network - and now its sold out. Abbie has helped me. So the next time I need an office or meeting space or someone in my network asks for a recommendation… where am I going to go? Straight to Abbie at Fig.

So when you meet with someone at a networking event - don’t be thinking what can I sell you - think how can I help you? You might help them with one of the products or services you offer, but equally you may help them with an introduction to a new supplier or client from within your own network.

How to network when you hate small talk

How do you answer the question: what do you do?

When I first started networking I used to stumble over the answer to this simple question all the time and then I learned these two great answer starters.

last week I….

The first comes from business coach William Buist, who suggests starting with: last week I… For example: last week I ran a free workshop which helped people get over their fear of public speaking and one of my full day Stand up and Speak courses which teaches people how to speak with confidence, clarity and courage.

At the heart of what I do is a simple idea…

The second comes from the magical speaker Lee Warren who suggests: At the heart of what I do is a simple idea…

For example: At the heart of what I do is the simple idea that everyone is really a great speaker, but they just don’t believe it about themselves yet. So I train them how to speak with confidence, clarity and courage so they can grow their business and share their message.

For more Networking tips, read How to craft a killer networking pitch in 5 easy steps