Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Need Some Help with Face-to-Face Networking? 9 Tips

May 5, 2013

Know what? It doesn’t come as easily to other people as it might seem. You have to work at it.

There’s an ongoing argument about whether social media actually brings people closer or estranges them.

Todd Martin 041113 image 1I wonder if people said the same thing when businesses began to use telephones. No more calling on clients in person? Speaking into a piece of metal instead of studying prospects’ facial expressions, their body language and the firmness of their handshakes? What could you learn about them if you couldn’t look for clues in their offices or watch how they interacted with others at events or see whether they salted their food before tasting it?

If you’ve been happily hiding behind LinkedIn and Facebook because you’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable with in-person interaction, you’re not alone. And while it may feel forced at first, there are things you can do to ease your anxiety. Eventually, they’ll become second nature.

Build Your Skills

We tend to think of salespeople as extroverts. Monster’s Peter Vogt spells out several reasons why introverts can be quite successful at selling, including their ability to listen well and to draw other people out.

Whichever you are (and we’re all really a combination of both), you might try working on your networking skills instead of just winging it (or, worse, avoiding potentially productive events and meetings). Try these suggestions:

  • Clarify your goals – your reason for attending an event. With that in mind, research in advance who will be there and target a few.Todd Martin 041113 image 2
  • If a promising conversation lags, pick up on something the other person has said and ask him or her to tell you more. This flatters people.
  • Listen. We have a tendency to be formulating what we’re going to say next, which means we miss some of what the other person is saying. You never know when he or she will drop a clue that could spark something.
  • Strike up conversations with other people who are alone. They may be relieved to talk to someone. One of you might be able to introduce the other to new people.
  • If a conversation isn’t working, or if the other person is exceptionally self-absorbed, move on gracefully.
  • Make sure your physical or virtual business card lists multiple ways that you can be contacted. You don’t have to wait until you’re parting to exchange (although it’s one way to ease comfortably out of a conversation).
  • Though it may seem contrived and artificial, have some topics ready for discussion.
  • Take every opportunity presented to interact. You can initiate conversations anywhere – in the buffet line, at the coat check or waiting for your car. These spontaneous exchanges can be more fruitful than those you’ve planned for.
  • Remember that not everyone else is as self-assured as they might seem.

Hopefully, your gathering will just be a launch point, the beginning of at least one beneficial association. Todd Martin 041113 image 3Whether you follow up on social media, call, or email, follow up. You’ve broken the ice successfully, and you can do it again.




Stock images courtesy of

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  1. Need Some Help With Face-To-Face Networking? 9 Tips via Todd Martin reblogged this and added:

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