A great conversation will feel like a dance.
The more you practice, the better you will get and the process will be smoother. You will no longer worry about uncomfortable silences. You will be able to be present and listen to the other person because you will not be inside your head.
At the Art of Tango Networking, we took a sneak peek into Betsy’s journey to becoming a great networker. Now we will take a closer look into that journey.
Some of the things we talked about:
- How to develop your networking skills?
- Defining Networking
- Preparing before an event
- Strategies and Tactics to keep the conversation going
- The Value of LinkedIn
- What makes a great networker?
- Books and resources to become a better networker
The following will be a summary of our hour-long conversation. Anything that you found valuable and interesting is thanks to Betsy’s great answers. If there are any parts that you find boring, not so useful, or that have typos, it is not because Betsy speaks with typos or because she is boring, that was probably me.
Mindful Connections with Betsy Assad
We started at the beginning, talking about how did she start to develop her networking skills, to which she said “That is something that God has gifted me with”. I completely agree because Betsy is very personable and sociable. And she was doing so since she was a kid, running around at family gatherings talking to all the different extended members of the family.
And even when she has the gift, she still dedicates time to work on her communication and connecting skills. “Get out and do it! And do it for as long as it takes.”. Never stop working on yourself and your skills!
Tip for Extroverts: Since it is easy for you to flow with words, be mindful of the time and limit your conversations. Look for normal breaks in conversations to step away. If you are both really engaged in the conversation that is great, it is a reason to follow up a continue it on another occasion. Don’t monopolize one person’s time. A great way to do break a conversation is to connect someone else, never leave a person alone.
Betsy defines networking as “Just meeting new people.” Don’t be transactional, be open to meeting new people and focus on the long term. Be open to good conversations because you never know where those could lead.
Finding Balance: When you start out go to any and every event. This will allow you to develop your skills. Then at some point, you have to be selective and pick the events that will put you in a position to be effective.
Pro-Tip: Repeating networking opportunities are the best. This will allow you to naturally build the relationship in an efficient way. A great example of this are the Bauer College Alumni Association Networking Breakfast because you meet new faces but you also reconnect with people you have met before.
Don’ts: One of Betsy’s biggest time-wasting event was a speed-networking type event. Where you had about a minute to talk about what you do with a group and then you would switch groups “I got a lot of business cards there but I didn’t make any good connections”. Focus on quality instead of quantity. “One good conversation is better than 10 cards”.
Worst-case Scenario: There may be situations where you would be able to tell that the other person is not open to having a conversation. You should try asking a couple of open questions and then relate to their answers. If that doesn’t spark interests, then it is ok for you to move on. Be polite, close with “Nice to meet you” and shake their hand. Keep it simple.
Obstacles: We all face them. “There are some days that I still get really nervous, that I don’t want to go and I much rather drink coffee in the corner and not talk to anyone.”. Don’t let that fear hold you back. “We have to do the things that we don’t like to do, to get done what we need to get done.”. Betsy’s purpose is to help improve lives ad be there long-term for her clients, and because of that strong purpose, she is able to push through any obstacle.
Realistic Expectations: If you go to an event with the goal of getting a client, then you will only be focused on that instead of being present. This will not allow you to connect. If instead, you go with the mindset of “Just meeting new people”, you will always have an opportunity to do so. And having a good time and good conversations at events will be a positive reinforcer that will keep you coming back.
Great connections: You would be able to identify a great connection because it is when both people in the conversation are asking good questions, both are being curious about the other one. It will feel like The Art of Tango Networking. You probably will be laughing and talking about anything but business.
30-Second Pitches: “Simple is better”. Just a basic sentence that shares enough of what you do, and also leaves room for people to ask more questions and start a conversation. It is very important to have a one-liner that explains in a macro-perspective what it is that you do. Be authentic and tailor your pitch to the person you are speaking with.
Just Keep It Simple: Do not take it too seriously. Networking should be fun, you should be excited about the event you are attending. Go with the intention of having a good time, and by doing so you will draw others to you. Remember there are over 6 million people in the Greater Houston area, so if you don’t connect with someone that is ok, you will have other opportunities even if you mess up.
Keep It Simple
Keep it simple and don’t forget to have fun. Learning The Art of Tango Networking will allow you to do so.
And the most important thing is to “Get out and do it! And do it for as long as it takes.”. Next year we will be sharing some opportunities with you so that you can Go to the Networking Gym consistently.
But you can start now, check our Networking Section that already has tools and resources that can be valuable to you.
This article was written by Alejandro I. Sanoja, based on an interview with Betsy Assad.
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