Having great conversations-starters ready could make the difference between a great new business connection and a polite conversation. So here are time-saving, effective ways of getting to know what’s important to someone.
Focus on the important information
You’re looking for information that allows you to form a connection. That might be:
- important issues in a company or industry
- key moves, deals or announcements
- shared background or interests, personal or professional (be careful about personal interests unless they’re obviously publicly available, such as on a LinkedIn profile)
- things that genuinely catch your interest, where you could contribute or you just find fascinating
- problems you might be able to solve (though this is not about selling, so handle with care)
Networking research techniques, and how to use them
Basic: Google searches, of course. Make use of the advanced search options and search limiters to filter your results.
Time-saver: Google alerts will send you emails every time something new appears with your set search term. That could be the name of your contact, company or an industry keyword. If your contact gets a promotion, or the company is engulfed in scandal the day you’re going in, you’ll give yourself the best chance of finding out about it.
Basic: Search for LinkedIn profiles. Great for employment history, interests and expertise.
Time-saver: you can follow members of groups you’re a member of and companies without needing to be connected to them. You’ll see their updates automatically appear in your timeline.
Basic: Follow key contacts and their company.
Time-saver: set up a list for that person, or key people, and a channel on your social media dashboard such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. That way you can be sure you won’t miss what they’re saying. You might want to start interacting with them already.
Basic: Read important blogs, from companies, individuals or sectors,
Time-saver: Find industry blogs through the huge blog database Technorati.com. Then use a RSS reader such as Google reader to keep on top of multiple blogs in just minutes a day. Enter the addresses of blogs you want to track, and you can immediately find out if there’s a new post and what it is. Sign up for email alerts if they’re available.
Industry specific information
Basic: Look at industry specific websites, such as professional associations or media.
Time-saver These can be great for reliable search results. If your contact has a common name, they’ll probably be lost in a general Google search, but you’ll be searching for them in their specialist field so have a much greater chance of finding the right person. If the site doesn’t have its own search function, use a Google site search: you enter your search term:target site, eg [services:timewizard.co.uk ].
Basic: notice that they appear on videos, or do public speaking. Do a You Tube or Vimeo search for anything posted there.
Time-saver: you’ll get an instant idea of how they communicate by watching them speaking. Consciously note their language style, their pace, their personality. You’ll also be able to find them easily at a networking event.
How to do it even faster
Basic: Do it yourself
Time-saver: get your PA or Time Wizard assistant to monitor your various information feeds, and do a further filter, then produce a regular update sheet of the most important information, with key links.
All this means you can go into meetings or networking events confident that you can start conversations and create rapport. You’ll have a much greater chance of starting the strong, powerful relationship you’re aiming for, getting the job you want or the deal you’re going for.
At Time Wizard we provide time-saving solutions for busy business people, individuals and families. Contact us today for your free consultation on how we can make your life less stressful and more successful.
Photo by Earls37a