Networking opportunities come in all shapes and sizes. They can be the 36,000-person conference you flew halfway around the country to attend, or the intimate monthly breakfast meeting among industry professionals. These events can even take the form of an after-work happy hour or industry-related holiday event. Better still, they can be your everyday encounter at the grocery store, waiting for the train or grabbing a quick bite at lunch.
The entire world is ripe with opportunities to see, be seen, get to know someone and – best of all – let someone get to know you. You can’t take advantage of these opportunities if you don’t see them for what they are, however. While no one would ever want you going through life as a walking advertisement for yourself or Finance of America, having a keen eye for those open doors can mean the difference between a promising opportunity and a missed introduction.
When it comes to selling yourself and your business, I believe in never having an agenda. Instead, let the conversation flow freely, organically. Most of us love to be asked about ourselves or complimented on our tastes, so start with that when possible. Take a genuine interest in getting to know the fundamentals of someone: where they came from, what they do, what they’re currently working on, what issues are occupying space in their mind.
It’s simple questions like these that can reveal pertinent information. The person may be new in town. Perhaps they’re upgrading or downgrading their living arrangements. Maybe their wife just relocated to a new office. Even conversations about real world events like the election, 10-Year Treasury and whether the Fed will raise interest rates can say a lot about a person’s current state in life.
You can find yourself playing the role of unintentional hero with just the right person who is in a transitionary period. Anytime you have the ability to help someone, whether it’s by opening a door, flashing a warm smile or offering your assistance with their current financial needs, you should take it. After all, will you really look back on that 45-minute train ride and say “I wish I were able to stare at my smartphone screen the whole time”?