For most of us, walking into a room full of strangers can be like attempting a bungee jump – daunting to say the least.
Indeed, I believe that for many of us, the tried and tested techniques of ‘cold’ telephone calls for developing new business are significantly less effective and the ability to network face-to-face is one of the most productive means of developing existing business or opening up new channels.
Very often the opportunities that present themselves are conferences and events where we are thrown into a room of strangers.
So I read with interest a recent interview with a newly-appointed ‘visiting professor of networking’ at a prominent London business school — said to be the first such appointment of its kind anywhere in the world.
It got me thinking – in an age of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – about the value of good old- fashioned networking face-to-face.
As the new professor, Julia Hobsbawn, argues, “Face-to-face contact is much more important in the ‘Facebook Age’ because technology can create isolation despite its many benefits. Trust is the biggest single asset a person can have and face-to-face contact provides this better than any other form of engagement. “
She offers a few valuable tips:
- Choose face-to-face over Facebook
- Eye contact matters
- Ask ‘How are you?’ rather than ‘Who are you?’
- Be curious
From my own perspective, if I’m going to a conference or meeting I’ll always try and find out who is going to be attending and identifying the key people I’d like to meet.
Linkedin profiles are always handy, especially pictures of the people, their career background and looking at the groups they belong to can be useful. The key is finding common points of interest be they professional or personal such as sports teams.
I still remember what one of the best sales people I’ve worked with told me “when meeting a new prospect always have two or three questions to ask them that show know or have researched their market or business.”
I’d be really interested to know your thoughts on face-to-face networking and whether you have any tried and tested ice-breaking phrases to introduce yourself?