As you continue to refine your networking superpowers, here’s a really easy way to artfully navigate that very common scenario where someone says “What is it that you do?” or “Tell me a little about yourself.”
While this provides a great opportunity for you to share the value you bring through your work, this scenario can often prompt one of three reactions…
- Nervousness about having the spotlight on you;
- A total blank as to what to say;
- A “pre-rehearsed” description of what you do.
While I am all for being prepared to articulate the value you offer, in networking, one size does not fit all. Creating authentic connections requires that you show up authentically in all interactions. This requires that you develop the skill I call… catering your comeback. It’s the art of tweaking your response to fit the situation, so the person you speak to can better understand what it is you do and the value you offer.
Think of this networking tip as a bit of a “game” in which your goal is to ask at least three open-ended questions at the beginning of the encounter. The goal is to gain information about the other person before sharing what you do. By being the first to ask three powerful, open-ended questions, you have the opportunity to discover a bit about them, their life, their interests and possibly their frustrations or desires. With this information, you will then “cater your comeback” to be more aligned with the person’s interest, personality and values. In short, when you present what you do within that context, they will better understand how you can help them or perhaps refer someone they know.
One question I often get around embracing the rule of three is, “What do I do when the other person asks me a question first?”
While you will eventually find your groove and naturally kick off the Rule of Three, in the case where you are asked to share first… simply say, “I’d love to share what I’m up to but I want to hear about you first.” It’s a simple way to turn the spotlight back on the other person and let them know you are genuinely interested in them. Plus, it feels good to make the other person feel special.
Three Steps For Rocking Creating Conscious Connections
Step 1: Naturally and with genuine interest, ask a few (go for three) engaging, open-ended questions that shows your interest in who they are and what they are up to.
What questions do you ask? It somewhat depends on the situation or setting, but in general it’s best to start with broader questions and as you learn more, you can ask more specific questions.
By the way, this approach works equally well in virtual networking situations when you are on one-on-one or in breakouts.
Here are some ideas to get you going…
- Ask how they came to be at the event, part of the group, or know the host.
- Ask what’s something they are excited about right now in their life and business (depending on the niche you play in)
- Simply say, tell me a little about what you are up to. (I prefer this over asking what they do as it insinuates work or profession, which may not apply.)
- Offer a genuine compliment of some kind.
Step 2: Listen carefully for clues as to where they are in their life and work. Ask yourself… What are they like as a person? What relationships have they mentioned? Have they shared any passions or interests? Did they communicate any frustrations or concerns? What might be “off” in their life at this time? You are looking for clues as to how what you do may be of value to them.
After being fully present for them, acknowledge what they’ve shared, reflect back what you heard and make them feel seen and valued.
Step 3: In this step, the conversation typically shifts to you being in the spotlight. With what you now know, you will be able to “cater your come back”, by sharing what you do within the context that is more meaningful to them. By slightly tweaking the way in which you share what you do, the other person will be more able to spot the possible connections.
- A relationship coach can tweak what she shares based on whether the person is married, single, engaged or divorced.
- A health & wellness coach can tweak what they share based on whether the person is an athlete, interested in health, shared a physical ailment/challenge or is overweight.
- A business coach can tweak their share based on whether the person is thinking of starting a business, in the early stages or further along and ready to scale.
While the “essence” of what you do doesn’t change, you are simply personalizing the way you couch what you do to meet them where they are.
Not only does the “Rule of Three” and “Catering Your Comeback” make networking more fun and natural, but it also enables you to create more meaningful connections than if you had shared a canned response that doesn’t take into account where the other person is.
Would you like to download the “Rule of Three” to keep for future reference? Click here to download.
Jane Deuber is a business strategist with 33 years and 7 successful start-ups to her credit and helped over 15,000 entrepreneurs experience greater fulfillment and improved profits through her programs and products. To learn how Jane and her team can help you expand your reach and increase profits, check out her two companies, Global Experts Accelerator and Smart Biz Quiz.