Expert Advice On Business Networking And Tips On Developing Your Networking Skills

Interview with Olivia Fox Cabane – Networking Expert

Olivia Fox Cabane is an author, speaker and the Executive Director of Spitfire Communications. She is the author of “The Pocket Guide to Becoming a Superstar In Your Field”. Her passion for teaching communication has lead her to lecture at Harvard, Yale, MIT and the United Nations, and to be frequently interviewed as the current networking expert on both radio and television.

Josh: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?

Olivia Fox Cabane: It’s grabbing every opportunity that you see! It’s networking any time, anywhere. “But I don’t have time to network” — Yes, you do! Networking doesn’t just happen when you take time out of your busy schedule to appear at an official “networking” event. In fact, networking can happen anytime, anywhere.

Every minute you’re around other human beings is a chance to connect. Self-made millionaires are known for their tendency to network everywhere and all the time — on the golf course, but also at the doctor’s office, at the health club, or on a plane.

You don’t necessarily need to carve time out of your already- packed schedule for “official networking.” Instead, just focus on meeting people and making connections in your day-to-day activities. The most effective way to do this is to use “wasted time” or “waiting time.” As a rule of thumb, the more bored people are, the more receptive they are to being approached.

Josh: Can you share one idea that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?

Olivia Fox Cabane: Only one?! Too many favorites! Here are a few for you to pick from:

1. At a cocktail party– the best place to stand in a room in order for people to like you better… Near the food. First, it makes for easy conversation starters, such as “what do you think of the cannelloni?” Second, when people eat, their endorphin levels rise, which puts them in a better mood, thereby improving the chances that they’ll like you. Third, eating also boosts their memory, and therefore the chance that they’ll remember you later. The dessert section is ideal: by this time, they won’t be starving anymore, their endorphin levels will already have risen, and the pastries are always an easy conversation starter.

2. Ten tips to feel comfortable at any event…


* Find out everything you can about the attendees — it will give you conversation fuel.

* Wear an icebreaker; anything that will draw attention and inspire people to approach you.

* Read a couple of mainstream newspapers just before the event so that you can use the headlines as conversation.

* Get there early: This gives you the opportunity to warm up slowly as the other guests gradually arrive.

* Remember in detail one of your proudest moments just before entering the room. The memory will flood your system with endorphins, an instant confidence booster.

* Breathe! Deep breaths have an instant calming effect.

* Pretend you’re the host of the party: it boosts your self-confidence because it makes the event your event.

* Position yourself around the desert buffet: it makes for easy conversations, and when people eat, their endorphin levels rise, which puts them in a better mood.

* Approach people standing alone: they’re probably feeling awkward and will be grateful to you for saving them from anonymity.

* Compliment them on something they’re wearing, and then ask an open-ended question about it. It’s one of the most effective icebreakers around.

-You can learn more about Olivia Fox Cabane at