By LISA SWAN
If you want to be a master networker, there is one especially critical thing to remember when it comes to making a connection. It is that it is better to be interested than interesting.
It sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? After all, you would think that being an interesting, fascinating person would help you connect with others quickly, especially when you are networking.
It’s not that being interesting will be a drawback — actually, it is important to keep a friendship. However, the key to meeting new people, and making some sort of bond or connection, is less about being interesting, and more about being interested – in them and in their lives. When you are talking about the other person’s favorite subject — themselves – and ask them questions about their lives, you can get them to open up right from the beginning. Here are some tips on how to do so:
Tailor your questions to the individual
Instead of rattling off a generic list of questions, ask the other person questions about their lives, and have good, specific follow-up questions. For example, if you are talking to a writer, ask them what their favorite topics are to write about. When the writer talks about the topics, ask them specific questions about them. Of course, there are some generic questions you can ask, like how the person found out about the event, but try to also ask specific questions.
Be an active listener
Many people in networking situations really are half-hearing what the other person says and tapping their toe to await the chance to talk about themselves. Instead, really listen to what the other person is saying, and respond to those comments.
Show sincere interest
You can’t fake this; it you do, it will be obvious. Instead, think of something that you find compelling about what the person said, and ask more about it. You have no idea how just showing sincere interest in somebody else can make a difference. People will think you are a great conversationalist, when all you did was ask them questions about themselves. They may also find you a thoughtful and, yes, interesting human being, even if you haven’t talked their ear off with your own interests.
Keep the connection going
After you meet, keep in touch with the people you networked with by being thoughtful, without being too pushy or needy. If you happen to see a newspaper article that they mind find of interest, send them the link to the article. You don’t want to come across as a stalker, of course, but you do want to show your interest in networking and connecting with the other person.
Of course, you can show how interesting you are as time goes on. But don’t be all “look at me” about it. Instead, drop in information about yourself as a way to relate to others, without coming across as a braggart or a showoff. Before you know it, you may make a real bond with others.