By James Boggus
Networking opportunities do not always happen in hotel ballrooms complete with nametags. As an entrepreneur, you never know when you may meet someone at a restaurant, a ball game, or even at the gym, who may be valuable to you professionally. When this happens, let it happen. Always, have your business cards on hand or an electronic equivalent. Be prepared at all times to build authentic rapport.
Remember, networking is not always a sales pitch. Here are a few tips on how to build and keep the conversation moving forward.
One of the best approaches I learned on to build rapport is the FORM approach. FORM, an acronym, stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Motivation. The “FOR” talk helps build rapport before you delve into the “M,” what motivates a person. FORM can be adapted to any social situation.
F: Family- ask about?other people’s families and share a little about your own family experience.
Where did you grow up? Do you still have family there?
O: Occupation- ask what they do for a living and share your work experience. Comment on the similarities and/or differences between the two.
Tell me about your job/business?
What is the best part or the most challenging?
R: Recreation- ask them what they do for fun (sports, hobbies, volunteering, children activities) and talk about your shared interests.
What do you like to do in your spare time/for fun?
How did you get into that?
M: Motivation- ask questions to determine what is important to the other person.
Aside from work and recreation, what is really important to you?
If you could do X all over again, what would you do differently?
Use questions to guide the conversation. However, don’t just ask questions, share your own experiences, as well. You want a conversation, not an interrogation.
James Boggus is a native of Pittsburgh, Mobilepreneur, Director of Chocolate Blues and Business Networking Festival. To contact James with questions/comments use James@bizfestival.com, Twitter: JBog24, and About.me/jamesboggus
This article was first published in Soul Pitt Quarterly Print Magazine (SPR15)
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