For most people, walking into a new venue where you don’t know anyone can be an incredibly daunting and difficult task. One key element to the world of business is networking, where you are pushed into these uncomfortable situations. Even some of the most extroverted people may not feel confident in a room full of strangers. In this blog I’m going to share one key technique that has helped me with networking as well as just connecting with new people. This technique is called the conversation stack.
First of all, I’d like you to picture something. Picture a large mahogany wooden name plate, with your name engraved on it. On top of that name plate is a large two story stucco house. On the roof of the house you notice a family comprised of a mother and a father, a few children as well as a pet. You also recognize that the eldest son is holding a soccer ball. When your eyes begin to wander higher you notice that dad has his left hand up in the air and is wearing a dirty work glove. On top of that glove is a massive Boeing-737 commercial air plane with a blinking light on top of it. This may seem like a lot to take in, which is why I’ve attached an image of my description.
Every element of this image plays a crucial role to the components of the conversation stack. Initially we imagined a large mahogany name plate; this is to symbolize your initial introductions: getting their name as well as making sure that they have heard yours. It is recommended that you take your time with the delivery of your name, have a pause between the delivery of your first and last name. the next image is the home: ask the person where they live or where they grew up you might find you have something in common. The family on the roof is there to prompt you to ask question about family; ask about kids, parents or grandparent. The soccer ball is to symbolize sports: spectating or playing for some people this can be a great topic to focus on, then again people may have no interest in sports what so ever, in this case move on. The work gloves prompt you to ask about what they do for work. At a networking night this is something that will be emphasized, ask meaningful questions that you are genuinely curious about, avoid things like salaries. The plane symbolizes travel, this can be very fun and exciting topic to discuss, ask where they’ve travelled where they’d like to travel and so on. The blinking light is the final component to the conversation stack. The bright blinking light symbolizes that moment where the person you talk to lights up! This is when you know you have them. They are ready to talk, and talk passionately about something you’ve brought up in your stack.
With this technique at your disposal you can now be a networking pro, when the conversation ends, try to get a business card or a LinkedIn account so that you may carry your conversation further in the future.
Now a few important notes:
The stack is not a rigid structure, feel free to flow through the conversation and emphasize on points where you’ve really connected with someone.
You do not need to complete the stack; you might find that you could talk to this individual about work or sports for the entire venue.
Feel free to make changes and adjustments to the stack everyone is different and have unique ways to approach a conversation.
I hope these networking tips will help you out, thanks for reading!
Director of Corporate Relations, DECA U Guelph 2017-2018