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The Foundation of Good Business Networking

Quite a large percentage of people out there have an almost overwhelming fear of talking to strangers. This fear however, is generally totally unfounded, and if challenged head-on can be converted into a passion.

Quite a few people arrive at a networking function feeling a little nervous, because they don't know many of the people attending. This often causes them to leave their confidence and their authenticity at the front door, just prior to taking that huge step into the venue. They are unable to start or finish conversations, and usually have a miserable time. They often leave vowing to never return, and to avoid future networking events at all costs!

Comfort zones

These same people however, once back in their comfort zones, can express opinions on just about anything, and rarely allow themselves to feel intimidated by anything or anyone.

We can begin to learn that it is actually our nerves and fear of meeting strangers, that sometimes gets the better of us at these events. Therefore, to improve your networking skills, it will help dramatically if you work on improving your conversation skills.

Think about some of the better communicators in your own personal networks: what makes them different? Is it that they do any or all of the following:

*listen to your answers; *allow you to finish your response without interrupting; *make good eye contact; *genuinely act as if they do care about your answers; *somehow go out of their way to make you feel special; *follow up when they say they will; *offer helpful suggestions; and *remember snippets of previous conversations you may have had.

The one thing each of these great communicators do, is make a genuine connection with you.

The listener focuses on you and the conversation you are having together. Whether there are one or five people in the group, they are focussed on the general conversation. They are not distracted. They are living 'in the moment', and what is commonly referred to as being 'present'.

When we speak from our heads, we often become flustered and nervous, stumbling over words. We are so worried about what we are going to say next or what a word means or whether we are wearing the right clothes, etc., etc. With all this head stuff happening, anyone having a conversation with us just thinks we are uninterested in their answers, and distracted by anything and anyone else in the vicinity. They sum this up as a bad listener being rude, or a waste of time.

When we make that genuine heart to heart connection, we listen actively to the conversation. We don't have to worry about what we are going to say next, because when we are 'actively' listening, we receive lots of cues for responses, or more questions to answer. If we are quiet for long enough, we can actually gather a large amount of valuable information.

Conversations at networking events are no different to phone conversations; we want to feel that the person we are speaking to is in fact listening. We all have a strong desire to be and feel heard!

Effective networkers have a belief system that every single person they meet is incredibly interesting and has much to contribute to any conversation.

Key to making connection

When you focus on making those genuine connections, once the conversation starts, it generally flows without needing to be manipulated or controlled. The key to making the connection is basically you are treating people the way you would like to be treated yourself. Be a good listener: use the two ears one mouth ratio as a guide to how often you speak!

If you knew everyone in the room and a stranger walked into the room, what would they be hoping someone in the room would do? Befriend them of course; and even if you may feel nervous, they may be feeling a whole lot worse, and in need of some genuine nurturing attention.

So, the next time you see a person standing alone and looking a little nervous or out of place, talk to them. Or, better still, do your best to catch their attention and invite them to join your group.

If by chance you attempt befriend someone who does not want to join in your conversation, that's okay. At least you extended the hand of friendship to them.

Good networkers usually have a couple of open ended questions prepared. Here are a few examples:

What was the highlight of your weekend/day/holiday? What tips would you give someone who is new to this group or meeting?

I may know someone who could do business with you, what would be your ideal client?

What's your favourite...? restaurant, movie, sport, etc.

What do you like most about your...job, home, living in...?

About Author Phil Evans :

Phil Evans is a master at the art of networking and referral marketing in buisness. He challenges business owners to exponentially grow their profits on a continual self-improvement program. He's also the co-founder of SynergyBizNet, find out more at: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

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Article Added on Monday, April 20, 2009
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