How to Have a Networking Conversation
March 8, 2021
Communicating with people in your network can be tricky.
Everyone likes to talk about themselves… even you. It’s a natural human way of being.
BUT that approach won’t serve you when you are engaging in a networking conversation.
The goal of networking is to build a mutual relationship built on trust. You need to let them know that you are here to help them, and that you would like them to help you as well.
With this goal in mind, it’s important to go into a conversation with a plan to focus more on them than on yourself. When you do this, they’ll go away feeling good about themselves, and therefore they’ll feel good about the conversation and about you.
I talk about this in detail in my book, You, You, Me, You, The art of Talking to People, Networking, and Building Relationships.
Here are some key notes to get you started:
Let’s say you’re going into a virtual coffee chat with someone in your network that you already know and have spoken with before. You can use my concept easily during this call.
It draws on 4 simple words:
Hint: That final You, is the most important part.
Here’s what that conversation sounds like:
Focus on YOU:
Mary, I am so glad we were able to find the time to catch up. I noticed you recently (commented on a social media post / took an action). That made me think of you so I’m glad we’re able to connect.
Focus on YOU:
So tell me, what have you been doing since the last time we talked?
The last time we talked, you mentioned ________. How is that going?
Focus on ME:
You mentioned _________. I can relate because I am going through something very similar.
I’m doing well. (then share something that you think they might find interesting or something that you would like her to know about what you are doing.)
Focus on YOU:
Mary, it has been so great catching up. Let’s not wait so long next time. Good luck with your work situation and if you need some advice or help in the future, please do not hesitate to reach out. You have always been so helpful to me when I’ve need advice.
Consider scheduling the next time on your calendar before the end of the call, though it’s ok to leave it open.
Take it one step further by following up with an email within 48 hours to reiterate how much you enjoyed catching up and you look forward to your next conversation.
There’s one thing in the above conversation that I hope you noticed: Begin where you ended.
You’ll ease into a conversation more smoothly if you start with where you left off. The fact that you remember will let them know that they are important and that you are invested in the relationship.
Do you want to make sure you're happy in your next job?
Use this worksheet to clarify what you need in the next company you work for.