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From Business Cards to Business Relationships: Personal Branding and Profitable Networking Made Easy, 2nd Edition by Allison Graham

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Chapter 41

Small, but Meaningful, Chat

A successful conversation is much like a tennis game—back and forth with each participant equally enthused. Once the dialogue has begun, the conversation should flow from there.

Mastering small talk will help you find common ground to create a mini-bond with new contacts. Small talk may feel trite and unimportant, but it's the small talk that leads to the big talk outside the event.

The goal of conversation at functions is to establish enough common ground to determine a reason to connect outside the event. Ideally small talk will uncover common interests, business alignments, the six degrees that separate you, potential need for your product or service, and basically whether or not you enjoy each other's company. The goal is not to become best friends or a new client on the spot. Although it's nice when those instant connections happen, usually that's not the case.

Keeping a conversation rolling is simple when you learn to listen and ask appropriate probing questions that naturally grow from the dialogue. You only need to prepare a couple of questions in advance. If there is a genuine connection then you can proactively engage in conversation.

When a person doesn't participate actively in a conversation with you, that's a red flag to say to yourself, “Okay, this is not one of my quality contacts, it's time to move on and meet someone else.”

Ultimately, the decision each person has to make during this initial contact is whether or not there ...

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