Thursday, June 11, 2009

F.O.R.M. - Tips For Networking Your Small Business

Beyond The Weather: Small Talk Tips For Networking Your Small Business

By Caroline Melberg

Have you ever been invited to a business networking meeting or luncheon, or thought about going to your chamber of commerce's networking events, but decided not to because you never know what to say to get the conversation started?

I've been there – and here's the simple trick I learned to help me feel comfortable with the cocktail party small talk. Most people who know me wouldn't think of me as "shy" – and I'm not – most of the time. When it comes to "networking" though, I used to struggle with making small talk.

That is, until I learned the F.O.R.M. trick.

F.O.R.M. works great because it works as a memory tool for when you are in social situations and you want to get to know the person you are talking with, and you want that person to remember you – and your business. Instead of talking about the weather, use FORM to make your conversation count.

F.O.R.M. stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation and Message – four areas you can use as conversation helpers in just about any social situation.

Family – asking whether they live around the area, if they are originally from the area or have moved there recently, if they have a family – all of these are great conversation starters. This gets the person talking about themselves and gives you a chance to learn about them.

Occupation – what do you do for a living? When they tell you what they do, you have a great opportunity to ask them about their job – if it's in an industry you are familiar with you can comment about how competitive it is, or how challenging. If you are unfamiliar with their industry, here's your chance to learn about it.

When they ask what you do, have your '30 second elevator speech" ready. This is a description of your business that you can say in just a couple of sentences that articulates what it is that you do.

For instance, for my business I would say that "I help small to medium sized business owners market their brick-and-mortar businesses on the Internet, finding new local customers, increasing their sales and growing their businesses."

For a full story, click here to read it at Manta.com website.

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