Dale Carnegie literally wrote the book on networking in 1936. How to Win Friends and Influence People demystified the process of making friends out of strangers and inspired legions of business coaches to carry on Carnegie's message. Peter Handal, the chairman, CEO and president of Dale Carnegie & Associates, shared some of Carnegie's rules for meeting new people with CIO.com.
Smile: "This is such a simple, basic rule, yet people just don't think about it," says Handal. They're so focused on needing to network at a conference that they don't realize they're walking around with a scowl on their face. Scowling, serious, expressions are forbidding, says Handal. People are more likely to warm up to someone who says good morning with a broad smile than they are to someone with a dour countenance.
Ask a question: Joining a group engaged in conversation can be awkward. The best way to do so is to pose a question to the group after getting the gist of the conversation, says Handal. "You build your credibility by asking a question, and for a shy person, that's a much easier way to engage than by barging in with an opinion," he says.
Listen: One of the most profound points Carnegie made in How to Win Friends was that people love to talk about themselves. If you can get people to discuss their experiences and opinions—and listen with sincere interest—you can have a great conversation with someone without having to say much at all.
Business cards: Always have them handy, says Handal. "They're an effective way for you to leave your name behind so that people remember who you are."
Say the person's name: "People like to hear their own name," says Handal, pointing to another one of Carnegie's basic principles—that a person's name is the sweetest sound to that person. So when you meet someone, use his name in conversation. Doing so makes the other person feel more comfortable, like you really know him and he knows you.