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, it can also 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 that feels awkward and contrived.
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 suggests that you develop the skill I call… catering your comeback. It’s the art of tweaking your response to fit the interests and situation of the person you are speaking to. Catering your comeback, rather than repeating a pre-rehearsed “elevator pitch,” keeps your interactions with others natural, relevant, and more meaningful.
When I teach the rule of three to clients, I encourage them to think of this approach to networking as a bit of a “game” in which your goal is to ask at least three open-ended questions at the beginning of each encounter.
The goal is to gain information about the other person before sharing what you do so you get a sense of how you can, in turn, share what you do in a way they can relate to. By being the first to ask three powerful, open-ended questions, you get a glimpse of their life, their interests, their work and 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, thereby accelerating the connection in even the briefest interactions.
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 shine 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 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.
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.)
- Inquire about something they are excited about. “What’s one of your passion projects you are working on this year?” or “What are you most excited about in your life/business right now?”
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 to make them feel seen and valued.
Step 3: As the conversation shifts to you, you now have a chance 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 engaged and likely to spot connections and alignment.
- 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 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 a seasoned entrepreneur
While the “essence” of what you do remains the same, personalizing what you do in a way others can relate to open doors to new connections, possible referrals and an experience that is more fun and natural.
Would you like to download the “Rule of Three” to keep for future reference? Click here to download.
Have an awesome week!
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