How to make a new business connection

Updated 8/22/2016 6:54 AM

It's that time of year: The kids, many of them, are back in school. Cubs fans are hoping; Sox fans looking away, Bears fans crossing their fingers.

And business organizations are scheduling networking activities -- your opportunity to renew business acquaintances, meet new people and, above all, set the stage for connections that can help grow your business. A networking event can present opportunities to finally meet people you've been hoping to connect with, but you'll need a little finesse to pull off a self-introduction.


"If the person is alone," says Lillian Bjorseth, "walk up to them and say, 'I'm so-and-so, and I've been looking forward to having an opportunity to meet you. I really liked (your thoughts on a business issue, your new book, your business' support of a school activity or whatever fits).'"

From there, your initial conversation should flow easily. "You're opening with a compliment, and people like compliments," Bjorseth says.

President of Duoforce Enterprises Inc. in Lisle, Bjorseth is one of the nation's most successful networking authorities.

Introducing yourself can be more difficult if your hoped-for new friend is surrounded by a crowd, Bjorseth says. In that case you may have to wait for your target to break away or for the group to break up.

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"Keep an eye on them," Bjorseth says. "Be unobtrusive, but position yourself so you can move quickly when your target is free."

Networking events also can be the ideal place to renew acquaintances -- assuming, of course, that you remember names.

We all forget names and face the potential of either an uncomfortable "Uh, I forgot your name" or missing a business opportunity by avoiding someone we'd really like to talk with because we're too embarrassed to admit we can't remember their name.

There are ways to cover.

Writing last month in the third installment of a blog series on how to remember names, Bjorseth had some who-the-heck-are-you-again recovery ideas:

• Take a quick glance at the person's name tag -- assuming the individual is wearing one and that at least the first name is written large enough to be readable.


• Be honest and say you forgot. Most people, Bjorseth says, will appreciate your honesty.

• Joke about it. "I've read that memory is the first thing to go, and mine seems to have left," Bjorseth suggested in her blog. "Can you refresh me with your name?"

Maybe a bit more helpful are these two Bjorseth suggestions:

• Review the list of attendees prior to the event. Doing so helps implant names in your mind.

• Set an example. When you're being introduced by someone who makes an awkward pause, "Extend your hand and say your name," Bjorseth writes. "The favor undoubtedly will be returned."

Two other remember-the-name Bjorseth tips: Repeat your conversation partner's first name several times early in the conversation, then use it again as you say goodbye.

• Follow Jim Kendall on LinkedIn and Twitter. Write him at Listen to Jim's Business Owners' Pod Talk at © 2016 Kendall Communications Inc.

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