Speaking with people you don’t know at a networking event can be a tricky proposition. Having a valuable conversation with a prospective client means making sure it is about them, not you. To do that, you need to be both inquisitive and insightful. Knowing something about a lot of different topics gives you a leg up. And that’s where doing your homework on economic and industry information comes into play.

Starting a useful conversation

As a professional services provider calling on small- to mid-size business (SMB) owners, local networking gatherings are great places to make connections with new prospects. So, it is a powerful conversation tool to become knowledgeable about business trends, industry news, and local economic data prior to attending any networking event—not to “show off” your knowledge but to have a meaningful, intelligent conversation.

The best way to do this is, for example, to say, “Oh, you manufacture _____, that’s interesting. I read that manufacturing has grown X percent in the past Y years in the U.S., but the growth is mostly due to robotics. Is that true for you? Are you using any robotics?”

As you can see, this is a much more engaging conversation-starter than the generic, “So, tell me about your business.”

2 steps to gaining intelligence before a networking event

Here are two easy steps to boost your economic and industry knowledge and improve your conversations at networking events.

  1. Review your local and national economies. Log into Vertical IQ, and from the top navigation, select “Local Economies.” The first page provides a short update for the national economy. From there, select your region, and see which industries in your area are growing and hiring, and how your community’s job growth and unemployment figures compare to the overall economy.

    It is also beneficial to review the vacancy rates, fluctuations in home prices, and building permit activity, which are all indicative of the local real estate market’s health.

  2. Review the news. On Vertical IQ’s top navigation, select “News.” In this section, you can choose from broad topics such as Healthcare, Manufacturing, Construction, and Real Estate, and many others. From each industry sector, scan the news headlines and discover a variety of timely articles pertaining to small businesses. Now, you’re ready to have a discussion about a wide variety of topics!

Implementing your knowledge

As you prep for your next networking event, think about how you can use all of this information available on Vertical IQ to ask open-ended questions when you meet a new SMB prospect. You will likely discover that, armed with this knowledge, you are able to have much more engaging conversations.

Then, by analyzing the information you glean from talking with these prospective SMB clients, you will be able to offer them more tailored advice about the solutions you can provide.

BONUS: For those prospects you connect with, try printing the pages you discussed from Vertical IQ to use as a follow-up after the networking event. Highlight the points you talked about, jot down a personal note at the top, and staple your business card to it.

Make the most out of your next networking event! By getting up to speed on economic and industry information prior to the gathering, you will be prepared to shine with great conversation-starter topics.

>> Ready to have more engaging conversations at your next networking event? Visit https://verticaliq.com/ to get started for free today!