Do you network? In the flesh? It’s a fantastic and enjoyable way to connect with like-minded people, learn, exchange ideas, make contacts and do business. And the most valuable and enjoyable part of networking must be the 1-1 interaction.
In some groups, this might be a 10-minute break-out session where you are paired off with another attendee. Or it might be a much longer separate get-together for coffee or lunch. These informal meetings happen in most groups, but some actively promote it, and even expect it. Either way, the purpose is still the same – to have a good chat and find out about each other. Ideally, the conversation should be roughly a 50-50 split, with both taking an equal part. But I’ve had quite a few where it didn’t happen exactly like that!
Everyone’s favourite subject
Sometimes, you may know your 1-1 partner quite well already – maybe you’re both regular members of the group. In that case, you’ve probably got a lot to talk about already. If you still feel a bit awkward, a simple ‘How’s it going?’ is a great ice-breaker. Or anything which will let them talk about everyone’s favourite subject, themselves, and their business. And then, at some point, they’ll ask you the same kind of question (at least we hope so), and you have a whole conversation going. But sometimes, you may know very little about each other. This can be a bit daunting, especially if you’re new to networking. So I usually start by asking how they got where they are today, how they got started in their business. I want to hear their story. I love hearing people’s stories and they generally love telling them.
It’s just a conversation
After that, it’s just a conversation, and it can go anywhere. Maybe you’ll end up doing business, exchanging referrals or contacts. Maybe not, that’s not the point. Maybe you’ll have a great chat and some laughs. Either way, enjoy it, people are fascinating. The secret of a good 1-1 is to be genuinely interested in the other person, and you just never know where it can lead.
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