The “why” not the “what” approach to networking.
Authors Ury and Fischer teach all budding negotiators to focus on “Interests not Positions” in their book “Getting to Yes”. For those who have not read it, this is a procedure whereby you focus on your counterparties’ motivations and interests not their position: The “why” not the “what”.
I approach networking in a similar way to this. At a recent event someone came up to me without a salutation and said “What do you do then?” I found this approach distasteful. It implies (with no attempt to mask it) that he needed to find out quickly how much status I had so he can decide how long he should spend with me. This chap focused on “Position” not “Interest”.
Open your networking chat by avoiding talking shop and ascertaining “Positions”. You are much more likely to be remembered favourably if you take time to get to know someone and focus on their “Interests”.
As Dale Carnegie said:
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”.