June 5, 2019
Read Time - 2:40
It’s a lot simpler than you think! These steps will help you avoid bad ones while having Valuable Conversations!
Expect and accept. “But Craig, what do you mean? I don’t wanna have bad conversations especially when I hate networking! Isn’t there a way that I don’t have to expect it or accept it?” No. There isn’t. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t combat it :-)
Over the next couple of minutes you’re going to read about a couple key ideas that can keep you relatively free of bad conversations while networking.
First, like I said, expect and accept it is going to happen. It could potentially get awkward, the other person could be drunk, they could be having a bad day, etc. You may never know exactly what you’re walking into when you have a conversation with someone new, read here “complete stranger.”
The good news is you have choices! You can choose to stand there awkwardly having small talk with someone you really don’t want to talk to you. You can choose to engage with them in a conversation you don’t want to have around politics, religion, education, finances, work, etc. You can then leave early from the event and complain about how networking sucks and it never works and not understand why other people love it.
On the flipside (because there is always another perspective, isn’t there?) you can choose to disengage from said conversation. You don’t have to ever stay in a conversation you don’t want to be part of. Not that you need it, but you have my permission to do so.
Now, for the skilled networker, you may want to attempt to steer the conversation in a more suitable direction for you, while not totally disregarding what someone else wants to talk about.
For those of you that are still learning, to politely decline to talk about that which is making you uncomfortable is totally acceptable. Remember, this is your time to get to know someone and for them to get to know you. You are in control. Remember that. You retain the power for the conversations you want to have.
Notice I said “politely decline.” Remember, we want to keep relationships good regardless of what the other person does. I understand it's not always possible but if it’s within our control, and typically it is, we can leave that conversation without destroying the chance of a future relationship. You don’t know what that person may have dealt with that day so a little empathy goes a long way in relationship building.
If you do choose to stay in that conversation, be sure to prepare yourself with questions that can easily steer the conversation in a more positive and productive direction. (I wrote an article in the past highlighting three questions you can ask and my one “go to”. “What’s been the highlight of your day?” is typically a great one!)
If you are able to get them talking about themselves and remembering good times, a family vacation, a proud moment, etc., you have a much better chance at having that productive conversation you were hoping for. Then you get to leave the event feeling great about the accomplishment you just made and starting a relationship with somebody that you can help and that may be able to help you. Remember, that is the goal.
Expect and accept. It’s going to happen. In this short read you now have a couple tools to deploy in making a networking conversation one of value to both you and your new connection!
Please feel free to reach out to me with specific questions or comments. I love talking about this stuff. Also, please share this with three people, in your own NETWORK, you know could use it.