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Executive Networking Tips for Leaders

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Large industry events provide an excellent opportunity to make connections that could help further your career, either now or in the future. But do you know how to make the most out of those all important conversations? There is a fine line between having a conversation and having a conversation that makes a meaningful impression and establishes a solid business and personal relationship.

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Here are three networking techniques which can be used to ensure that connections lead to real business opportunities.

1. Listen
Many people become nervous and intimidated because they think a successful networker is a loud, confident, talkative person. This is not true. Let’s face it, the loud, confident people love to talk and they need someone to listen to them! Yes, quieter people have the advantage in networking as they are usually listening far more than they are talking. With so many leaders in the room, there will be lots of talking. So if you are feeling a little unsure of yourself just listen. During the conversation you will be able to hear opportunities, understand what other people need and be in a position to make a comment or suggestion. Remember, if you are naturally a less talkative person, being quiet and listening can be an advantage.  

2. Focus Questions
To keep you on target with your intention, always have several focus questions that you know off by heart to open up conversation but more importantly direct the conversation towards your area of expertise. For example, say you had the intention of meeting three people in the education sector, your memorised focus question could be… ‘In your opinion, which organisations are the current leaders in education in Dubai?’ or if you were in business management your focus question could be ‘How do you lead your organisation with the world in such a state of change?’ Not everyone will provide relevant answers to your questions and that is OK. If this happens the conversation may go flat. Don’t’ panic, just ask another open ended question to keep the conversation flowing such as “What have you enjoyed about this event so far?” Your focus questions should blend into the discussion to create interesting conversation, not be an interrogation.

3. In-Between Sessions
If you arrive at the auditorium before a session starts and there are people there, introduce yourself. Lean over the row, instigate a handshake, say your name, tell them where you are from and ask an open ended question like, ‘What are you expecting from this next session?’ Then, on your way out of the auditorium, talk to the people you met before the session and ask them if they enjoyed it and have a conversation with them. Also at the breaks, lunches and dinners, make sure you sit with people you don’t know. If you must sit with people you do know, invite others to join you, welcome them to your group and start a conversation with them. Don’t just talk to the people you know. You can do that anytime.

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