March brings Spring Break . . . and New Connections!
During Spring Break, influential movers and shakers often happen upon us in swim trunks or golf clothes. Don’t miss these possibilities! Chance meetings should be fun whether at the beach, a cocktail party, or brunch, and they can reap networking rewards for those seeking college or career advancement if one plays it right. I use the word “play” loosely, because informal approaches in social situations must be gentle, brief and not “in your face”. Otherwise, one can appear “rude, crude and uncalled for” as we used to say in the sorority house.
So first, recognize the opportunity. Ask friends in advance who might be attending an event. Then Google or check them out on LinkedIn (though never tell them you did). Still, if a person you meet is totally new to you, respond with a simple “Hi, nice to meet you,” a solid handshake, and a positive comment on the occasion, the day’s weather, or shared events like the resort or a sport. Ending with a question almost always works to keep the conversation going. Pick one: “How about you?”, “How did you spend today?”, “Well, I hope you enjoyed it, yes? ”, “What do you find most interesting in this area?” , “Do you come here often?” . Any one of these focusses on them, and most people love to talk about themselves. Once they answer, a good follow up is, “Hmm, that’s interesting . . .” or , “Yes, I can see that . . . “ then bridge from something they said to something of genuine interest to your future that the two of you potentially have in common, as in: “Yes, I know exactly what you mean, because I am in the process of . . .” . Always avoid the urge to sell or be overly anxious to do “the right thing”.
Be your genuine, relaxed and honest self. Tip toe into, “I would love to continue this conversation when you have time . . .” or, “Can I contact you later as I move forward? I would really appreciate that.” Then ask for his/her preferred contact, and follow up within 24 hours. Wait two weeks and the chance is probably gone. By then they are wondering about your lack of motivation, when they may have truly wanted to help you move ahead.
Copyright 2016 by Janis Murray
All rights reserved.