ABCs of Referral Marketing – E is for engage

by Sandra Hart on June 29, 2012 · 2 comments

How do you engage people at an event? How to people remember you rather than your competitor or other people at an event.

There are a few easy ways to engage people in conversation and to be memorable and they all involve a little thought and preparation.

The easiest way to start to engage people is to ask open ended questions, prepare four or five questions which you can use depending on the situation that you can engage people in conversation. Most people are reciprocal and therefore will ask you back the same question that you asked them. So let’s say you asked them “how did you get into that business?” when they are finished telling you their story about how they got involved in their business they will often ask “what about you”? or a similar question. Now this is where your preparation comes in! Any question you ever ask at a networking event or in a networking situation, make sure you have a good answer to the same question.

I am not saying to make up stuff or answer someone in a robotic fashion, completely the opposite, be prepared! Then you don’t have to think on your feet, you have already thought about your answer so that you sound more confident and engaging. Also if you have spent some time preparing short engaging answers to the questions you ask, you can focus completely on what someone else is saying as you are not formulating an answer to the question at the same time they are talking.

After questions stories are the easiest way to engage someone. Ireland had “seanchaí” years ago, they are people who are traditional Irish storytellers, and they passed on stories through visiting towns and villages throughout rural Ireland. Nowadays we have lots of books, blogs, TV programmes etc however the medium, we still love a good story, and they engage us like nothing else.

This is how you can be very clever in how you engage people, you have your own stories, and how you got to where you are, what you love about what you do, how you are better, how you help clients…. The stories are endless, it’s how you tell them that matters! Spending some time preparing stories and sharing them with a safe audience will pay dividends when you are engaging people at a networking event later. What works? What doesn’t? Does it have a beginning, middle and end? Is it flowing but concise!

The more confident you are telling your stories and the more focused you are on other people’s stories, the more memorable and engaging you will be.

How did someone engage you at the last event you attended?

Sandra Hart
Sandra Hart runs BNI, Irelands leading business referral organisation, she trains and mentors members and leads a team who enable local business people to find new clients and generate new business. She is an expert on the topics of networking, word of mouth marketing and referrals.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Stanley Rao September 6, 2012 at 11:07

Good post and a very interesting ended questions would be of a great help


Sandra Hart September 7, 2012 at 10:27

Thanks for your comment on the blog;

Some examples of open ended questions would be:

What do you do?
What are you working on?
How did you get into that business?
What type of contact is good for you? Why?
What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
How can I help you?

Check out Dr Ivan Misner’s blog on the subject there are some great suggestions on open questions there too:


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