Thursday, February 23, 2012

Make Networking Natural

Whether you are looking for a job or run a work at home business, networking is important. Unfortunately, this skill does not come naturally for everyone. When job seekers and business professionals are asked what they would like to improve about themselves, the ability to network is a common answer. Here are some tips for meeting new people and developing relationships.

The best way to strike up a conversation with other people is to talk about the subject most important to them, which is themselves. Balance the opening statement so it is not too open, giving them somewhere to start when replying. At the same time, do not make it so closed that their reply is limited. Combining a statement with a question is usually effective.

After the discussion starts, keep it going by making observations and asking follow-up questions. This encourages the person to provide additional information, which can be used to develop the conversation and build common ground. For example, from their replies, you may discover that other people grew up near you or enjoy the same hobbies that you do.

So-called “free information” provided by others can be a goldmine for networkers. Listen for it, notice it, and use it to move the conversation along, a practice called active listening. By listening actively and empathetically, a person becomes more attractive to others. Providing positive feedback can kick the conversation up a notch because you will be viewed as likable and understanding.

The natural progression of a conversation involves disclosing facts, followed by viewpoints, and then feelings. People will not reveal much unless they have a comfort level. Encourage these self-disclosures by moving at their pace. When presenting yourself, be specific, include weaknesses, and when describing your feelings, use words to create a picture because this adds human emotion to conversations.

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