Most People Waste Networking Opportunities

If you’re going to networking events to grow your business, chances are that you’re not nearly as effective building relationships as you could be. 

That’s because most of us spend too much time at networking events chatting with friends.  That is the conclusion of a study conducted by Professors Paul Ingram and Michael Morris of Columbia Business School.

For the study, the professors staged a networking event at the business school, inviting about 100 business people. To get a precise record of who met whom during the course of the night, attendees wore a small electronic device called an nTag to track all encounters.

While most attendees knew fewer than a third of the other participants, most didn’t take full advantage of the chance to meet new people. The nTags showed that the average guest had 14 encounters during the night and that friends accounted for a disproportionate half of these encounters.

Most people fail to maximize the value of networking events because they aren’t comfortable chatting with strangers.

Of course, the key to chatting with strangers is simply to ask questions and listen.  The best networkers have a series of ice breaker questions.

“Where are you from?”

“Do you have any plans for the holidays?”

“Do you have any hobbies?”

The goal is to find a point of commonality.  Usually it only takes a few questions to find that you’re both into motorcycles or cooking or golf. From there, the conversation usually takes off.

Next time you’re at a networking event, make it a goal to spend more time chatting with strangers than friends. After all, connecting with new people is the reason the events exist

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