Strassenschild 22b - DialogWalking into a room filled with strangers and near-strangers, and expecting oneself to carry on effective business building conversations, is not most people’s idea of a fun time.

And yet that type of business networking is precisely what business people often need to do in order to meet those people who are key to enabling them to reach their income and business building goals.

So if you are one of the many who are not comfortable going to networking meetings, but know you need to do it anyway; here are 3 business networking tips to help you become both more comfortable and more effective in networking situations.

You may be surprised to find out that an effective elevator pitch is not one of the tips I am going to share; since that is often the first thing people are taught to develop – a short promotional answer to the What do you do? question.

Tip #1 – You are NOT there to sell! You are there to build relationships.

Even if you have the world’s best elevator pitch (or marketing message, as I prefer to call it), flinging it into every conversation at the first possible moment is a good way to come across as pushy, salesy and someone to be avoided.

Wait to be asked before you go into your song and dance. Getting business through networking is a long term strategy that requires patience, something those of us who live in Instant America are not thrilled to hear.

Tip #2 – Focus on the other person, not on yourself.

This tip relates to tip #1 in that it helps you to build relationships. Be truly interested in the people you meet. Ask them what they do; then ask follow-up questions, both to show interest in what they are saying, and also to further clarify if there is some basis for the two of you to connect further.

Chances are, once you have questioned other people this way, they will ask you similar questions in return.

This is the perfect time to share your marketing message, but please, please, please, not in a rote, memorized fashion that leaches all interest and value out of the information you are sharing. You need to animatedly communicate your own belief in the importance of what you offer the world.

Tip #3 – Come from a place of service.

Be a business matchmaker. Ask people what or whom they are looking for; so that you can put people together when possible. This gives you the opportunity to ask people for their cards and for permission to write what they are looking for on the back of the card. (Ask permission, only because some peole hate to see their cards get written on. Save your writing for after the event if necessary.)

Bonus Tip – Follow up, follow up, follow up!

A strong business relationship is not built on one conversation at one event (or even several events). Here are some ideas for you to consider:

  1. Send an email (or better yet, a personal, hand-written note) referring to your meeting and something in your conversation.
  2. Invite the person to join your LinkedIn network.
  3. If this is someone with whom you wish to connect on a more serious level, invite that person to meet you for coffee or for lunch.

The end result of these tips my surprise you. When you focus all of your attention on getting to know other people, there won’t be much attention left for you to give to any nerves you may have experienced walking in the door.

As an added bonus, these tips work just as well for conversations on the phone as they do for conversations held in person.

Paying careful attention to another person is a very sincere form of flattery; and most people you meet will not only eat it up, they will tend to regard you very highly as well.

So go forth, network, and enjoy the positive results you garner over time from these business networking tips!