Listen carefully and show genuine interest
We all have experience speaking to someone who’s not really listening, just waiting for their turn to speak, and it’s not a very pleasant experience. You don’t want to fall into that trap. Make sure to listen to your counterpart clearly so that you can ask questions and enjoy the conversation. This is a great way to show interest and to find out more information. Remember that listening is a great way to learn – you can’t learn much from talking.
Speak to the person – forget the business discussion
Getting to know the person first is really important; so many people just start talking about business straight away and fail to make that initial connection. Find out more about who you’re talking to and get to know them a little better. Once you have made that crucial step, then it’s time to ask about business/career issues.
Offer to help them with a business challenge or refer them to someone who can help
If you are open to working with the person you’re speaking to, find out what their needs are in the business. What are their biggest challenges? Supposing that you can help them with those challenges, offer to give them some help, recommendations, advice or suggestions. People are usually very appreciative of this type of assistance. However, if you’re unable to help them, it’s a good idea to refer them to someone who can help them.
Tell them about yourself, the needs that you solve and how you solve them
When you speak to anyone for a while about themselves, normally they will want to ask you about yourself and your business. This is the ideal moment to describe what you do and the problem that you solve. Make sure that it’s clear and easy to understand – especially if your line of work is very technical.
Have your business card ready
Include your name, title, company LinkedIn address, email, phone number and a clear tagline. So many people have business cards that don’t actually say how they solve a problem. Make sure to include your value proposition or irresistible offer on the card. For those people who don’t feel comfortable giving their business cards to people, ask them for their card first. You’ll find that most people will ask for your card if you ask for their card first. After the meeting you can connect with them on LinkedIn and keep the relationship going. Some people like to follow up with contacts a few weeks after they initially met, but that’ll depend on the nature of the connection etc.