You know forming meaningful relationships with the right people has a direct impact on the success of your business. And that's great news -- if you were born with an outgoing personality.
But what if you consider yourself to be more of an introvert? Is your business doomed?
I've asked myself this a lot recently. As I look back on the success I've had forming deep relationships with influential people, I realize that making meaningful connections in a networking situation isn't about introversion or extroversion.
Here, three steps to building strong relationships -- no matter where you fall on the personality spectrum.
1. Your first question should excite them
Do you open a conversation exchanging names and a handshake followed by, “So Barbara, what do you do for a living?”
If so, know that you're just like everyone else. In some ways, that's a good thing, but if the goal is to be memorable and make meaningful connections, you may want to try something different.
One question that's worked well for my clients is, “So Barbara, what's happening in your life right now that really excites you?” By opening with a question like this, you immediately distinguish yourself. You also quickly tap into that person’s passions, which will help you form a connection faster than most others will -- even after several conversations.
2. Be more interested than interesting
Many people dominate a conversation trying to get the other person to think they are interesting. It feels good to talk about yourself, but it doesn't make the other person feel as good.
This is where the most effective networkers take a different approach: They focus on being interested in you instead of getting you to think they are interesting.
They ask questions about your business, your passions and often make you feel like you're the most important person in the room. How much are you talking about yourself, and how much time do you spend asking questions and being interested in others?
Pay attention to your body language as well. Are you showing them you're interested? The next time you're speaking with someone, think about this: Are you facing the person and looking into their eyes with intention? Focus on being interested in them, and they'll think you're interesting.
3. Be valuable
As an entrepreneur, you have a long list of challenges waiting to be tackled every day. Don’t think you're alone. Everyone has something they need help with.
The easiest way to be valuable to someone is to help solve his or her problems. You'll make a profound impression if you conclude a conversation with, “What's the one thing you're working on right now where you need the most help? How can I help you?”
Something happens when you sincerely offer to help someone. At first, they may look at you like you just grew a third eye, but then the walls come down, and they open themselves up by sharing where they need assistance.
At this point, let them know if you can help them directly or if there's someone you can connect them with. If you cannot, then simply share that: “I can't help you directly, but what I can do is scout for you. If I come across someone who I think can help, I'll make a connection.”
Then take action on your commitments.
If you follow these three steps, you'll begin to connect with others in meaningful ways and become a person of real value.
Related: Don't Be a Networking Frog