One of the main reasons people say they love to attend conferences is for the ability to network. Yet, when I speak at conferences, I notice that what is happening is exactly the opposite of networking.
People walk around with their herd, their tribe—the people they already know.
When they go into a breakout room, they save seats at their table for their tribe members, and those seats are directly beside each other.
When I speak at a conference, one of the first things I do is to ask people to go and sit beside someone they don’t know and introduce him or herself while exchanging business cards.
Next comes the question, “How do you introduce yourself in a memorable way?”
When someone asks you what you do, it’s just not interesting or engaging to answer him or her as a ‘talking brochure’.
WOW, HOW, NOW: How it can help you network
WOW, HOW, NOW is a favourite technique of mine that works like a charm. Here’s how it works:
- WOW: Say something intriguing (even puzzling) that will make the other person want to hear more. A creative summary of what you do that demands some clarification. Ideally, the stranger’s reaction will be to cock their head and ask, “What does that mean?”
- HOW: Answer the stated (or unspoken) question and explain exactly what you do.
- NOW: Shift into storytelling mode, giving a concrete example. The key phrase is “Now, for example…”
Let’s take a look at WOW, HOW, NOW in action:
Stranger: So, what do you do?
Me: I help create Big Hairy Audacious Ideas!
Me: I facilitate brainstorming sessions that unlock the creativity in corporate teams. I show people how to work together to create big, hairy, audacious ideas to make their business more profitable.
The next time you have the opportunity to network, try your best to break away from your herd, and try on the WOW, HOW, NOW approach! For more networking and brainstorming for business tips, connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.