First, Sports is always a good choice (because that’s what two men would do) but only if you know what you are talking about. I would highly recommend staying away from politics and religion. I know realize some people may be thinking “duh… that’s common sense Shelley” and we all know this goes without saying but these days, it’s so incredibly easy to get sucked into those conversations with the elections and the issues at the forefront. (Just check your facebook newsfeed) Neutrality on this subject is super important because so many people are on one side of the fence or the other and we can possibly be judged for our personal political opinion even if it has absolutely nothing to do with our ability to serve someone in our businesses.
Therefore, my best answer to this question would be to simply ask them about themselves. Ask them about their businesses, what they do, how they got started, what they are excited about, what their goals are, etc… People are typically in business for themselves and are at networking events because they are passionate about what they do. They WANT to talk about it. They WANT to share it with others. You can also ask about their interests, their hobbies and so on to see if you can find some common ground. You only need one piece of common ground to form a connection, whatever it may be. The more you learn about them, the more interesting they will think you are. Then when you follow up with them 24-48 hours later, you can add a personal note about something specific they discussed with you which will add to the rapport you are building with them.
As a side note, if you are networking with two or more people and one is a woman, you have to give more attention to the woman or psychologically, you may be at risk of her not thinking you are taking her as seriously as the man. As many of us know, women have worked very hard to get to the positions they are in and if they are partners in a company, they want to feel just as important.
In summary, when networking with others you are just meeting for the first time, keep your subjects current and up-to-date but keep your opinions neutral. Always ask about them and find out what they are passionate about. They have been listening to everyone else and really want someone to listen to them. Always follow up, thank them for their time and add a personal note to include something you learned about them and finally, when dealing with women in a mixed group, ensure you give her enough attention and respect for her position and contributions. HAPPY NETWORKING!
If you have any questions you’d like to ask and would like me to share answers on my blog, please contact me at www.MyPersonalBusinessCoach.com or on our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MyPersonalBusinessCoach
If you’d like to find out how we can help you get UNSTRESSED and OUT of OVERWHELM so you can clarify your personal and business goals, develop a laser-focus on growing your professional and personal relationships and to create a better BALANCE between your business and personal lifes in order to reach your DREAMS and GOALS, contact me in order to set up a complimentary strategy session at the link below
by – Shelley Mitchell, CPM, CAPS, CAM, HCCP, MORS, COS
(*Author of the forthcoming book series “How To Get & keep What You Really, Really Want – Using SMART Goals to get UNSTRESSED and OUT of OVERWHELM”)