One thing I enjoy most about being an entrepreneur in Edmonton is the opportunity to participate in a variety of networking events in and around our provincial capital.

I appreciate the opportunity to be “social” with fellow members of business organizations and their guests, such as a great conference about mergers and acquisitions a week ago with ACG (Association for Corporate Growth) Edmonton.

While business often arises from meeting and connecting with great people, it is never about the sale. I saw this repeatedly during the one-day conference I was fortunate to chair and emcee at the Chateau Lacombe.

Whether it is face-to-face interaction or leveraging your engagement on social media, events like these are important to maintain connections and also meet new people.

It’s a role I’m very comfortable with, and so were many other business people in the room. It’s interesting to watch how some individuals are exceptionally good at networking, yet others struggle with this concept.

ACG Edmonton networking
When you are networking, create a dialogue rather than a script and let things happen naturally ­– avoid having structured questions and answers in your back pocket. This networking photo was taken at ACG Edmonton’s conference March 9-10 in Edmonton.

So how can you become more social in your sales process?

The most tried-and-true technique I’ve found is taking the time to make sure the conversation is always about the other person. It’s about asking great questions to learn more about the person you’ve just met or are taking the time to reconnect with.

It should not come as a surprise that listening skills are key! It’s so crucial to listen actively to the person you’re with, and with any luck they’ll be doing the same with you, too. Create a dialogue rather than a script and let things happen naturally ­– avoid having structured questions and answers in your back pocket.

Start with open dialogue and things will naturally flow the right way.

Slow it down and enjoy the moment: Some people talk way far fast and probe for information like a news reporter. You’re not there to interview them, so slow it down and don’t rush the next statement or question.

When you attend a large networking event, are you the Bee or the Flower? The Bee is buzzing around the room meeting people and the Flower tends to hang in one spot and lets other people approach them.

In my experience, the split of people who are Bees versus Flowers is a pretty even 50/50. Both can be effective, but it is important to know who you are and how best to leverage that approach.

What’s your networking style?

“We’re losing social skills, the human interaction skills, how to read a person’s mood, to read their body language, how to be patient until the moment is right to make or press a point. Too much exclusive use of electronic information dehumanizes what is a very, very important part of community life and living together.” 

­– Vincent Nichols

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