“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” –Theodore Roosevelt
The single best way to build a personal network is to display a human touch. Don’t worry about getting your message–all your thoughts, skills, and experience–out there right away. You’ll have time for that later (when you’ve been asked). First, get an audience. To get an audience, be an audience. To do that, you need to ask good, open-ended questions that begin with what, why, and when. What, why, and when questions evoke emotions (right brain) and communicate that you, the asker, care about specific issues, the responder, and what the responder has to say about these issues. “How” and “where” questions are fine, too, but they tend to be processed by the left brain (the logic side) and have less emotional appeal. They don’t show as much “care” and human touch.
Consider these questions:
- What is your biggest challenge in today’s marketplace?
- Why do you do what you do?
- When do you expect to hire additional staff?
- How might I benefit from your offering?
Which ones would you like to be asked?
Keep your elevator speech under wraps at most networking events–since elevator speeches often feel like sales pitches. Most people aren’t looking to buy. They’re looking to talk and to have interesting conversations. Save elevator speeches for “power” networking events where you and another individual get together for about two minutes to exchange cards and vital information then find another person to talk with. These are fun and high energy, let you meet a lot of people in a short period of time, but really aren’t designed for connecting at anything other than a superficial level.
Build your network by asking good, open-ended questions that begin with what, why, and when. And stay tuned for the next post in this series where we’ll discuss sharing your network and the rewards that can bring.