Column: In networking, when they ask, tell!
Photo by Streuli Silvan
It was one of those long silences that every speaker dreads.
I was speaking at a local networking breakfast. As a part of that presentation, I had the audience work on specifying their target market. We went through a process of examining their current clients and, from that, determining a specific segment of the market they would prefer to serve. Then I did something which apparently baffled the whole crowd.
I asked if anyone would like to share their target market with the room.
Well, you could've heard a pin drop. Finally I had to remind them that, in order for it to be effective, we must communicate our target market to those around us. Of course, there are good and bad ways of doing so, but when someone actually asks us, we pretty much can't go wrong.
This also goes for someone asking us who we'd like to meet, what we do, why we do it and where we see ourselves in five years.
It's funny. When a lot of us started networking, we tended to be so nervous about the process that we ended up talking almost non-stop in order to hide our discomfort. As we became more adept, we begin to focus more on the other person — which is great. Unfortunately, some people take that a bit too far and end up revealing nothing about themselves.
Those of us who've gone that far need to bring that bubble a bit more toward the center. Remember that networking is about relationships. Relationships cannot flourish without communication, which goes both ways. So, the next time someone asks about you, whether it's your target market, your history in the business or your favorite Thai restaurant, let them see a little bit of you.
You've nothing really to hide and everything to gain.