Research has shown that people like to do business with people that are similar to themselves. It is also often said that people will do business with friends before strangers. So how do you rapidly turn an impromptu exchange of elevator pitches into a “best buddies” scenario?
Well, sometimes it does happen by accident. You will meet somebody and very rapidly find that you hit it off as the saying goes. If you are a law of attraction follower, you would say that you are resonating. You are on the same wave length. But more often than naught it doesn’t go that way and can be awkward at best.
The solution lays in you taking charge of the conversation. By charge, I don’t mean to take control and dominate it at the others expense. I mean to be proactive and direct the conversation in the way that you want it to go. Research has also shown that people respond well when you ask them questions about something that they have just said, asking them to expand upon a point perhaps. The usual questions of who, how, why, when and where can be used to elicit further info effectively as long as you don’t come across as giving them the third degree. “Where were you on the night of …? Can anybody vouch for your whereabouts” may not be the way to win friends and influence people.
Asking more questions of the person is also a highly recommended traditional sales communication method i.e. that you use the information that you have just gathered to tailor your sales pitch for the individual. While that may be okay if you are actually in a sales situation I wouldn’t recommend it in first-contact networking encounter. As I said most people will respond well to probing questions as long as they feel that you are eager to learn more from them. You will know fairly quickly if you are dealing with a paranoid individual. They are out there.
Once you determine whether you have common interests, don’t forget to talk about the possibility of doing business together or helping each other with referrals.
Who knows, you may start off business networking and end up with a new best friend.