I’m In A Conversation. Now What?

I'm in a conversation. Now what?

You’re at a networking event and you think, “OK. So, I’m in a conversation. Now what? Should I keep talking to this person or move on to someone new? How many people should I be meeting today?”

As wonderful as chatting with a connection at a networking event is, do not burn out the conversation. This is not to say that you need to use the event to pass out handfuls of your business cards and collect handfuls in return. That is not productive either.

It just says that you should attempt to connect enough with the person so that you are both comfortable continuing the conversation another time. Perhaps that is at the next event. Perhaps that is over coffee the next week. Whatever the case, talk for 15-20 minutes, get their contact information and pledge to get back to them.

This will allow you the opportunity to meet and connect with other people. To this end, when you find a lull in the conversation, simply suggest to them:

“I would love to keep talking, but …

  • “I don’t want to occupy your whole time …”
    • “There are a couple people I need to connect with before the event is over;” or,
    • “I promised myself that I would meet three new, great contacts today … you make one and now I need to find two others.”

“If you do not mind, however, I would like to reach out to you later this week (early next week) and arrange a time where we can continue this conversation.”

152) Returning To Small Talk

Returning to Small Talk

Great conversations start with small talk. It warms up the mood, right? Then at some point the dialogue shifts to business – a non-salesy exchange of general information.

However, after the professional conversation has run its course, before the conversation ends, it’s important to 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? Simple. By returning to small talk in this way, 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 delighted in your interest in them. And, that can do nothing but help endear them to you.


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155) Seeking Conversation

Seeking Conversation

Why do you go to networking events? There are probably lots of potential reasons. And those reasons change from event to event and from one time to another.

One reason you don’t go to networking events, however, is to stand by your lonesome and quietly sip your coffee or whatever. Of course not.! You’re there to engage in conversation.

This begs the question:  How do you seek out people to talk to at events?

Know this: It is much easier to engage one person in conversation than a whole group.

So, when you arrive at an event or whenever you find yourself without someone to talk to, look for that person standing alone.

You know what? Chances are, that person is hoping for someone just like you to engage them in conversation. So, at next networking event, look for that person and go make a friend.


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LinkedIn Active Use 3 of 4

The third active use of LinkedIn is to add value by contributing content. Think for a moment about how you might conduct yourself at a traditional networking event. You stand around talking with people. You start discussions and you contribute to discussions that others have started. You answer questions that others ask, and you ask questions that you look for others to answer. LinkedIn provides this same opportunity for its users.

If you go into any of the groups you have joined, you will see that there are usually numerous discussions going on. Jump in and add value.

This does NOT mean pitch yourself or your product. It means share an opinion or insight. Offer a solution to a problem. Share your experience as it relates to the discussion.

In networking (whether traditional or online), adding value in this manner is critical to keeping you on the minds of others. People want to associate with those who add value, as they cannot help knowing, liking and trusting you.

Creating A Referral Machine 6 of 7

If you do a spectacular job educating your network on recognizing referrals, great. That, however, is not enough. You need to empower them with the ability to talk to prospective clients about what it is you do.

For example, if they recognize that the displaced executive is a potential client to refer to you, great. Encourage them to strike up a conversation with the person (and they will if they know, like and trust you). And transition into a discussion about franchising. Here is an example:

“I am sorry you are in transition. What is your next move? Have you considered becoming your own boss? I understand that franchising is almost a fool-proof means of successfully being in business. I know a great franchise broker … there is no obligation to meet with him and his services are essentially free, as the franchisors pay his fees.”

In addition to general conversation, empower your referral machine with non-technical buzz words and catch phrases about your industry (as well as what they mean) … Franchise Fee … Ongoing Royalties … FDD … Earnings Claim … Discovery Day.  Your network should know enough to talk about what you do but not enough to do it.

Finally, encourage your network to hook you into the situation. In short, encourage the person to talk about you in a connecting sense. Returning to the example from before “I know a great franchise broker. There is no obligation to meet with him and his services are essentially free, as the franchisors pay his fees.”

241) Hold Your Fire

Imagine this: You’re at an event, standing with someone new. Someone great. Someone you’ve longed to connect with. And before long, you’re engaged headlong in conversation. In fact, you’ve done well. You’ve got them talking. Awesome, right?

But then, in your excitement, before they finish, you interject, cutting them off. UGH! This is not only potentially embarrassing, but your conversation partner might perceive that you aren’t terribly interested in listening. And you don’t want that.

Consciously focus on what the other person is saying. Hear them out.  Do not jump to conclusions about what is being said. Listen for details or clues as to where they might like the conversation to go.

Then, take a deep breath. Yes, take an actual deep breath before you respond. A second of silence won’t kill the conversation. Rather, that brief moment will allow you to have a better response, which will lead to a better conversation and the perception that you’re truly listening. This serves to build the relationship.


Like what you’ve read? Prefer to hear it as a podcast or daily flash briefing? Subscribe to the Networking Rx Minute podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts.


Small Talk To Big Business

Remember, small talk is the warm-up that leads to the 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. At some point in 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.

For example, a nice segue might be, “Water skiing isn’t cheap! 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 open 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 opportunities 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 but 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.


211) Shut Up And Listen

Award winning business coach, motivational speaker and author of A Life Best Lived: A Story of Life, Death and Second Chances, Danny Creed has some sage advice for achieving your goals and dreams: Simply serve others around you. Your family. Your friends. Your clients. Your colleagues. Your vendors.

This then begs the question, “How do I best serve others?” He has great advice for that too. It’s simply this: SHUT UP AND LISTEN.

When you do that, you can help others be successful by understanding their own definition of success. To effectively listen, you need to completely focus your attention on the person and be genuinely interested, with an intent to actually learn.

Moreover, don’t interrupt. Don’t argue. Stay off e-mail, text and social media. And, by all mean, lean into the conversation with your body and eye contact.

Coach Creed is right. Success starts by serving others. And serving others starts by shutting up and listening.


Like what you’ve read? Prefer to hear it as a podcast or daily flash briefing? Subscribe to the Networking Rx Minute podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts.


208) Crucial Conversations

No matter who you are or what you do, you can’t avoid an occasional interaction that you sense will be, well, tense, contentious or generally uncomfortable. In these moments, your gut gives you two options: prepare for battle or run and hide.

However, according to authors of the book Crucial Conversations there is a third option. When communication is headed towards conflict, these authors encourage you to ask yourself three questions:

  • One, what do you want for this person?
  • Two, what do you want for yourself?
  • And, three, what do you want for the relationship?

The benefit of reflecting on these questions is that this line of thinking pulls your brain out of the primitive “fight or flight” mindset and engages a higher order of consideration. That alone will soften tensions and get you in the right frame of mind to empower a more productive result.


Like what you’ve read? Prefer to hear it as a podcast or daily flash briefing? Subscribe to the Networking Rx Minute podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts.


205) Exit Conversations Gracefully

Making connections at networking events is great. Remember, however, that networking and these events in general, are about building relationships.

So, you want to become adept at having small talk conversations. But in addition, you need to become skillful at transitioning out of conversations so that you’re able to move on to another.

Here are some great ideas on things to say to help you “gracefully exit” from one conversation so you can engage in another:

  • “Thanks for your time. I told myself I would meet three interesting people at this event. I have two more to go.” OR
  • “Thanks for your time. There is someone over there that I need to connect with.” OR
  • “Is there anyone here in particular you would like to meet? I would be glad to introduce you.”

These statements are all useful in helping you transition from one great conversation to the next. So, keep these statements in your conversation arsenal.


Like what you’ve read? Prefer to hear it as a podcast or daily flash briefing? Subscribe to the Networking Rx Minute podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts.