A quick online search for best networking advice will lead to you answers like this: ask good questions, be interesting and make sure you follow up after the initial encounter. These are all great points, but I’ve got an easier idea – learn how to talk sports, then you’ll have your bases covered. Here’s why:
Sports conversations are an easy place to start. There are more sports fans out there than you realize, and it’s appropriate subject matter. It’s unlikely you’ll find yourself in the middle of an uncomfortable or heated exchange by asking, “What did you think of the Seahawks game Sunday?”
Being able to start a sports conversation makes you interesting. It gives people a break from talking business and enables them to talk about a passion. Sports fans will appreciate this opportunity and will be more likely to remember you after the initial meeting.
There are built in questions and follow up opportunities. You can only talk about the weather for so long, sports conversations, on the other hand, open the door to limitless possibilities. Let’s go back to our previous example: “What did you think of the Seahawks game?” Here are just a few follow ups that could follow –“What should they do next week?,” “Is this what you expected from them this year?” “Do you think they can win the division?” These questions aren’t limited to the initial encounter – it’s a built in follow-up opportunity the next time you talk or email.
Remember people ultimately do business with people they know, like and trust. A conversation about sports goes a long way in establishing all three. One more thing to keep in mind, networking happens during every day encounters, not just at large networking type events.
Wednesday night, I’ll be teaching these networking skills to a group of employees at BuzzBee – a strategic marketing and consulting firm in Seattle. The company recognizes the importance of effective communication and networking skills to grow the company and maintain relationships with clients. They are the first company in Seattle to offer this training to their employees and I guarantee by the end of the night they’ll be talking sports like a pro and become masters at networking. Click here for more information on BuzzBee and the event.
If you’re interested in learning how sports conversations can improve communication within your company or increase networking opportunities for your company, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org