I’ve made an executive decision. We all need to think like children again. To be free of internal self-doubt chatter that stops us reaching out and making new connections. You can be confident meeting people through networking or business meetings doesn’t have to be anxiety filled. Just think like a ten-year-old!
I’ve been attending events, exhibitions and networking groups for a decade now. My first involved spilling tea all down myself as I was unable to master holding my drink and whilst energetically talking with my ever expressive hands. I hope ten years on I have found my own style that doesn’t involve a change of clothes!
The recent parent-friendly Nurture Network event enabled me to bring my two girls. I expected them to run themselves ragged through the soft play, and over indulge in the glorious rainbow coloured cake. What I didn’t expect was my ten-year-old working the room like a seasoned professional.
Watching her speak to adults in the room, I commented to another Mum how easy it seems to make connections as a child. Strangers don’t exist; just friends you haven’t met yet. At what point do we lose this optimistic view and get churned up with self-criticism and self-consciousness?
A child’s naturally inquisitive nature is the defining difference for me; the drive for information. To know names, hobbies, age. To uncover a common interest. Follow their lead and start building relationships:
1. Introduce yourself first!
Bite the bullet and start the conversation. Who you are and the name of your business.
2. Ask questions
Have a set of questions that will start a conversation. Base them around What, Where, Who, How. They can include:
What do you do?
What do you enjoy about it?
Who are your clients?
Have you been here before?
How could I help you?
3. Ask to be friends
OK, maybe not that bluntly, but ask to keep in contact. Ask for a business card and connect with the person on LinkedIn and send a follow-up email.
Next time you are in a park or a party with children, just watch how they interact? What can we learn from them?