Let’s face it … “small talk” has a bad reputation. It probably dates back to the continual chiding our mothers did relative to talking with strangers.
While her warnings were intended to protect us as children from those who prey on our innocence, we are no longer kids. We are big boys and girls … We operate in the grown-up world where strangers become good friends, great clients and, even reliable vendors.
Even still, however, “small talk” gets a bad rap. Far too often people see it as idle chitchat that has no productive value in the professional world.
Understand this, our entire personal and professional worlds are formed and held firmly together by networking … And “small talk” has a big part in successful networking.
Networking events are generally not opportunities for closing business. Thus, you may not likely get clients as a result of them. You may stumble upon a client. Know, however, that is the exception rather than the rule.
As you embark upon networking at events, do not consume yourself with meeting as many people as you can. Remember, meaningfully connecting is about the quality of the connection and not the quantity. You are much further ahead in time to focus on really connecting with a small handful of people rather than simply collecting dozens of business cards.
Remember, networking events are everywhere. Business after-hours are networking events. Tradeshows are networking events. Business parties are networking events … so are social parties, tailgates, and really any gathering of people. Use each to expand your base of connections, from which you build relationships.
The burning question after most any networking event is “Was that worthwhile?”
In reality, the answer is “Absolutely!”. After all, every event offers value. Some offer more immediate value than others. They all have value, however.
Track your results however you deem appropriate. Before you completely pass judgment on an event, however, remember that the benefits of any networking activity may not present themselves for weeks, months, or even years.
Networking events are wonderful. The conversations can be exhilarating. And the whole experience productive. Follow Up or Follow Through regarding whatever you promised to. If you pledged to reconnect, do so. If you offered to introduce them, make it happen. If you indicated you would send them something, get it sent.
Know this, so few people follow through on what they say they are going to do. That is a sad, but true fact. Given that, if you are committed to doing so, you immediately elevate yourself ahead of a significant portion of the networking population.