One of the toughest things about networking is knowing what to say. And I don’t mean the usual “blah, blah, blah” about your business. I mean being both interested and interesting so that you’ll be remembered beyond your tagline. (You do have a tagline, don’t you?) This is about being a good conversationalist. It means you’ll always have something relevant and either educational or entertaining to share at a networking event, over a business lunch, or at a client dinner.
Think beyond the business box. Know that you will be in that red carpet ready position, being on the spot and needing to shine (isn’t that what red carpet walkers are?) So here are just 3 Wickedly Simply Ways to Red Carpet Ready Your Conversations (networking tips):
#1 Listen to News Once a Day (at least)
You don’t need to become a news junkie, but you do need to be up on the latest headlines both locally, nationally and globally. Personally, I’m a radio fan, and don’t watch TV news unless in the gym, do what works for you. Skip the politics unless it is something particularly colorful and non-partisan like when Congressman Anthony Weiner was caught with his proverbial pants down. Know the big stories so you can contribute your opinion and thoughts to a discussion.
#2 Get to the Movies
You don’t even have to go to a theatre anymore, but can watch Netflix at home or do it the old fashioned way and rent a video from Blockbuster. And when you travel, I am a big fan of taking at least one night with room service to gorge myself on the latest lodgenet movie features in the comfort of my room. This makes it simple to have conversation with just about anyone since movies are so well publicized and everyone has their favorite stars, themes, and more. And don’t forget YouTUBE and my favorite, TED and TEDx talks.
#3 Read Business and General Interest Publications (not just your industry)
Whether you like your reading online or offline isn’t the point, the point is that you broaden your horizons, stretch your mind, and discover some of the new things going on in the world today outside of your industry (and inside it.) Some of my favorites include Fast Company, INC., Forbes (online), Robb Report and Entrepreneur magazine. I also indulge in Smithsonian when at the chiropractors, and design and decorating publications (House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Dwell) when traveling.
The key to being a good conversationalist and gifted networker is that you are a well rounded individual and can easily move in and out of a variety of conversations on a variety of topics. You don’t need to be an expert, except in your field, but being able to discuss current events, current entertainment, newsworthy and notable individuals and companies, as well as your own expertise will make you irresistible to be around and add to your networking abilities.
So, as always, I want to HEAR FROM YOU! In the comments below, share HOW YOU STAY IN CONVERSATIONAL SHAPE, what are your sources for news, entertainment (sports too), and business and general interest. How do you build your Renaissance factor?