Social media strategies and e-mail campaigns are an important part of business marketing but Intuitively, we know there is still nothing more effective at building quality business relationships than a good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting.

So, why are so many people wasting valuable time when they head to a networking event? Thousands of phone numbers in your mobile device from cards you’ve collected. means nothing. if the folks you really need to connect with don’t pick up the phone when you call.

We humans feel the rapport in our bodies and minds instantly when we meet another person that we “like”. In a state of “Positive Resonance,” as Dr. Barbara Frederickson, author of the book, “Positivity,” calls it, we create quicker and deeper connections than our online correspondence. Problem is, most people are not regularly creating this resonance in a networking situation. Not even close.

So what are we doing wrong? And how can we be most savvy when we commit time to networking? Here are two ways you can shake up the room:

  1. AVERAGE APPROACH: Answering the question “What do you do?” with “ I am a __________.” It’s human nature to respond to an “I am a _____” statement with a mental discard, saying to ourselves,“ Well, I don’t need that.” It’s an attempt to simplify our search for what we do want; we “make room” in our mind by dismissing you as “Mortgage Broker” or “Web Designer.” Especially, if we currently have someone that fills this capacity for us, we have already removed ourselves a bit from the conversation. You’ve started at a disadvantage!

SAVVY APPROACH: Answer the question only after you learn more about the other person (See Tip #2). Then, customize your answer. For example, you find you are talking with someone who publishes a magazine on finances. You are in Public Relations. So you say, “ Well, I have an incredible lineup of financial experts that are looking for exposure for their articles!” Now you are not seen as a “What” (“a PR Person”) but a “Who,” (a valuable resource for his magazine content.) You have spoken into his world of possible needs.

  1. AVERAGE APPROACH: Asking, “What do you do?”Obviously, you want to know this, but with this question first, you instantly are confining someone in a “box” labeled with his or her occupation. Finding out “Who” they are is a better way to build rapport.

SAVVY APPROACH: Ask a question to reveal something about them. For example, “Did you get caught in the storm this morning?” They answer, “My husband and I just got the kids on the bus and it started pouring!” (You now know she is married and they have school aged children.) You will find that by asking to learn about them, folks will usually brighten up a bit. Most of us really do like to talk about ourselves!

If you have been one of the herd (it’s okay, we’ve all done it) asking the “average” networking questions, it may feel awkward when asking something different. It takes practice but here are a few suggestions. (Hint, asking with genuine curiosity is the secret to making any of these work!):

“What are you most passionate about?” (Ask with enthusiasm!)

“What do you have planned for the weekend? Holiday?”

“What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this week?”

“If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow where would you go?”

Or, start with an observation about them..

“What a great watch/ shoes/ dress! Where did you find something like that?”

Leave for your next Networking meeting with the goal of finding out as much as you can about the folks in the room… not just “what” they do. You may find some of your best referrals will come from people you instantly build positive resonance with. And I bet you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more, too!

Watch the related video!