Exit Gracefully From Networking Conversations

Business connections at networking events are great. Whatever the case, do not churn the entire event away in a single endeavor. Nothing says that you need to engage in a dozen different conversations over the course of an hour. Two or three is plenty. Remember this is not speed dating, rather, its networking (building relationships). Given that, you should develop some ways of moving on. As with anything else, honesty is the best policy.

S

Here are some great lines for doing that:

• “Thanks for your time. I told myself I would meet three interesting people at this. I have two more to go.”

• “There is someone over there that I need to connect with.”

• “Is there anyone here in particular you would like to meet? I would be glad to introduce you.”

Small Talk To Big Business

Now remember, “small talk” is the warm-up and thus it should lead to a work out. The workout is talking business. To make this happen, eventually you need to transition from small talk to real business.

When this moment comes, you will know. Some time into your exchange, there will be a lull. Use this moment to get at a more meaty discussion on business (whatever that might be).

Be forewarned, however, this is not to suggest that you start to pitch them or set them up for a close. It merely suggests that once you have them comfortably engaged in conversation, you should ease into a more professional discussion of their business or your business.

G (Results)

For example, this might be a good segue … “Well, water skiing is likely not cheap … So what do you do professionally to pay for it?”

Do not try to steer them. For example a business coach, should not ask … “Do you use business coaches in your business?” … A financial advisor, should not go with … “How is your 401K doing these days?” … A promotional products person, should not jump to … “How do you use ad specialty items in your business?”

Do NOT push it. Keep the tone light and the sales probing to a minimum. If you do this right, you will have lots of opportunity to gather future business intelligence, pitch them, and close them. Remember, people do business with those they Know, Like & Trust.

Return To Small Talk

After the professional conversation has run its course, before the conversation ends, touch back on something related to your “small talk” conversation.

For example “Great talking with you. Assuming, you don’t get laid up in the hospital skiing between now and then, I would enjoy continuing our conversation over a cup of coffee sometime.”

Why is this important? By returning to “small talk”, you have demonstrated that you were listening and that you remembered. More subtly, however, you are reflecting back to a part of the conversation when they likely delighted in your interest in them.

Tips For Making Small Talk

Here is an important thing to understand: “Small talk” is not about filling idle time with interesting things to say. Rather, “small talk” is about getting the other person filling idle time with things to say and you genuinely finding interest in it.

To make this happen (like anything) the key to success in “small talk” is having a reliable game plan. Like most game plans, the simplest are the best and this is a simple, reliable game plan one.

Step One: Ask A Question … Now remember, the key is to get them talking, so you need to be ready with questions that are open-ended. “Isn’t this weather crazy?,” will not cut it. “How does this crazy affect you?,” just might.

B (Three Fingers)

Step Two: Listen … Really Listen … Take an interest in what they have to say, even if the subject is not particularly interesting to you. Why? First, you just might learn something (something that could help you, or something that you can use to help them (which ultimately helps you).

Second, and this is very counterintuitive, but if you take an interest in them and whatever they have to say, they will find you to be a very interesting person (and they will not know why). It is just human nature. People tend to like people who show a genuine interest in them. So this listening encourages the entire networking process.

Step Three: Summarize & Share … As a follow-up (to show you are really listening) summarize what you have heard (or at least do the best you can) and then share a little about the subject as it relates to you. “So, as an avid water skier all this hot weather is great. I find that it kills my golf game.”

Then finally (just like the instruction on the shampoo bottle – lather, rinses and repeat) ask another question. Perhaps it is related to the first question, or maybe it is another tangent you would like to explore based on what they said in their answer. For example, “So, if hot weather is good, what do you do to occupy yourself when it is too cold to take to the lake?” Whatever, the case, keep them talking.