5 Steps To Establish Credibility While Networking

By Randy Block


Credibility starts with how you set up for success…

You are at this luncheon, which features a speaker. There is a round table with seven other people. Typically there is a floral arrangement directly in front of you so there is no chance that you can easily talk to anyone directly. That leaves the person to your right and the person to your left.

Do you turn to the total stranger to you left and perhaps say in a faltering voice:   “Hello. What do you do?”; do you have to be a phony and pretend to be interested; smile and say nothing; excuse yourself and go to the restroom until the speaker is introduced?

So here is what to do. There is no selling or persuasion. This is what really matters to you and what matters to that person sitting to your left:


  1. The first “bridge” is determining just exactly what you have in common? And this is actually pretty easy. It can be ANYTHING: an interest or opinion. In the example above, YOU picked the luncheon because YOU wanted to hear the speaker talk about something that YOU were interested in. Of course you researched not only the topic but the speaker as well. You can simply turn to the person on your left and ask: “What have you heard about the speaker?” Or “What impresses me most about the topic is _______. How about you?”; you can even talk about the food or baseball. ANYTHING to break the ice.
  2. Now, turn your antennae way up. Be fully present. Do not allow any distractions when listening. When a person knows that they have been listened to, the establishment of your credibility is nearly there. When a person, could even be a stranger, knows that they have been listened to and understood, they realize they are in the presence of a special person – you.
  3. Show intelligent and sincere curiosity about what they are talking about. Ask good questions. Get clarification. But, be sure not to interview or grill them.
  4. Here’s the good part. A good conversationalist will then deftly turn the spotlight on you to listen to your thoughts. They also value dialogue.
  5. As the “relationship grows,” the dialogue can easily transition to a different subject (e.g., business, health etc.). If it’s business, the topics might include the two sources of pain that all hiring managers are always thinking about: revenue and productivity.

The engine that keeps all of this on track is your relevance to what they are talking about. Authenticity and transparency means that you are willing to find common ground and shared interests.


Of course this can go the other way. The two of you can have different styles in substance or belief. But that’s OK. You did nothing wrong here. You were OK. The person you were conversing with is OK too. The “chemistry” just wasn’t there.


(c) 2016 Randy Block. All rights reserved.


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