Networking- we have to do what we are taught not to do!

by Phil Berg on September 13, 2013 · 0 comments

What do we continue to say to our children? ……….“DON’T SPEAK TO STRANGERS”

 Yet to network effectively, what MUST we do ? …… the complete opposite – SPEAK TO STRANGERS !!

In my humble opinion, there are different elements to this challenge (and by the way, that’s all it is – a challenge).  One – is actually making the initial approach ….”why” to approach in the first place and “how” to make the approach.  Another one is – now I have made the approach, what do I actually say or do

So let’s look at this, shall we.  What are some of the fears ?

  • Rejection?
  • Feeling foolish?
  • Coming across as nervous?
  • Coming across as pushy?

Firstly, let’s look at the “why” to approach.

As a Motivational Speaker and Assistant National Director for BNI, I am often asked to be the keynote speaker at company events and recently I spoke on behalf of a well known International Accountancy Firm. They were putting on a conference for their worldwide clients and they asked me to host a slot that would help their clients to be able to network even more effectively than they might do at the moment.

I asked the 400 strong audience 2 questions …. “”when can you network ?” and “what do you want to achieve when you network ?”   The main answers that came back were …  we can network anywhere and everywhere and we want ….additional knowledge and new contacts

The event was sponsored by one of the major high street banks and 8 of their senior managers were in the audience.  I asked them to stand up so that they could be thanked for sponsoring the event.  Bearing into account that one of the main goals was to meet new clients, the reaction from the room was hilarious when the 8 stood up – as they were all sitting next to each other in the same row and almost right at the back of the room !!!

So, the “why” to approach is simple

One of the (many) strategies to gaining more profit is to gain new contacts and one of the ways to gain new contacts is to speak to new people

Here are a few suggestions which will help you become more confident to make the approach:-

  • They will be as nervous of a stranger speaking to them as you will be of speaking to a stranger
  • Know exactly who you are approaching
  • Ascertain why you want to approach them – the only goal at that stage should be to create enough interest  for them to want to progress the conversation further – (it is “not” to sell to them at that moment)
  • You don’t need to stay in the conversation too long to achieve your goal (in fact, get out of it if it isn’t the value opportunity that you wanted)
  • Be interested in them and don’t try to make them interested in you
  • Have something interesting to say, when asked

Now, let’s look at the “how” to approach.

Using the thought process from the above, we are now going to be pro-active and make those approaches.  A great suggested line is …”Hi, my name is  (insert name here), is this a private conversation or may I join you ?”

 Now that I’m in, what do I say or do.

As already mentioned, be interested in them and make this sincere.  The 5 x “W’s” is the best technique to use ..

  • Who ….
  • What …..
  • Where ……
  • When ……
  • Why ……

If you start your conversations off using one of these key words, it will give the other person the opportunity to talk (usually about themselves) if they are inexperienced at Networking.

In summary, speak to strangers, ascertain if they are what you want them to be for you and then move to the next stage which is simply arranging a time and date for when to speak next – happy networking !!


Phil Berg

BNI Assistant National Director – UK &Ireland

Phil Berg
Phil Berg – International, Motivational Speaker. Helping companies and individuals around the world, present and network more effectively, resulting in increased profitability. Phil is practical and speaks the same language as his audience. He will inspire you to be even more successful with his “easy to do” actions and thoughts.

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