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The woes of small talk in business and how to make it conscious

I recently attended a networking event that was diverse in business culture and had captured my interest on expanding my network. Upon arrival, the group seemed inviting and happy to be there. Amongst the sea of faces were a lot of smiles and nods and the group appeared to be eager to make connections.


After about 20 minutes of settling in and seeing where to make introductions, I landed beside a man and a woman, who I quickly learned were husband and wife and owned a start-up in Boston. They were upbeat and animated.


They immediately jumped in and started telling me all about their business adventures and how they met. After about five minutes of both of them sharing their life story, I realized they only had interest in talking about themselves. There were zero questions about why I was there or the work that I did or even anything about the networking event at all. I started to feel trapped.


I took a deep sigh and after several attempts to guide the conversation into a more balanced direction, the conversation turned into an uncomfortable small talk, full of family antiques and dog print pants that were handed down, generation after generation. I counted how many words I had spoken and it was less than 10. It was time to move on.


The exit strategy when you are in those moments? Keep it real and keep it conscious.


I waited for a pause and quickly interjected with a bright and sincere "You two are doing great things and are seeming to have a lot of rapid growth! I'm excited to meet other people here too who are making their dreams happen. A couple of solid hand shakes, eye contact and handing off my business card and I was off. That was all in 10 minutes time. Phew. That was too much time spent and very one sided. Mental check to keep myself moving.


Have you ever had those moments? Feeling as if you can't escape a conversation? Of course you have, because you are human. It's our nature to want to talk about ourselves. I'm sure we all have that one family member that shares the same story, year after year, in several different ways? Or a co-worker who always has the same dilemma and loves to talk only about that issue?


Conscious Speaking, Conscious Networking and Conscious Living is something that is modeled to others and helps you develop strong skills for all of life's expressions and experiences. These are skills that are always accessible, grounded and real.


The thing about networking and meeting new people is that it should be fun. You never know who you are going to meet, who will inspire you and who may want to work with you! I love meeting new people, but I also appreciate that time is limited and valuable.


Continuing my way through this last event, I made it a point to only spend about 5-7 minutes with each person.


Making quick introductions that are authentic and uplifting will keep you away from small talk. Don't be afraid to dive right in with introductions and learning about what the other person does for work and sharing about what you offer. The trick is to keep the conversation flowing and engaging all the while maintaining balance, equalizing time for each of you.


Why?


Because what you do is interesting and it should get the floor right away. This is for both parties and leading a conversation that models mutual respect for time. This is applicable even in non-work events.


The result? You may strike up conversation that leads to real connection and shared interests if you adopt the strategy of sharing time.


It begins with asking the right questions. If you are going to lead the conversation, always start with a statement, not a question. Example: "I am Jane and I own Jane's Bakery in Brooklyn. I've been looking forward to this event and making a lot of new connections tonight. Too bad it's so short! (You are setting the stage for time right away)

"What do you do?" Keep it moving. Keep it real.


Alternate the questions to learn about each other and don't be nervous to move on if you feel the conversation is falling flat. Always engage with earnest and leave with a smile and a positive statement. Example: "John, it was so nice to meet you and I love the work you are doing. I wish you all the success in your career. Let's exchange cards and perhaps we will meet again". Or "John, it was nice to meet you, have you met Sarah who owns Bridgepoint Wellness yet"? "I think you two will have a lot in common. Let me introduce you."


Short, simple and to the point.





Networking can be exhausting and sometimes we don't feel up to the task. In a post-Covid world, we need to get back to meeting people in real life. So many are losing their social skills and are becoming more introverted, which leads to imposter syndrome, depression, anxiety and nervousness.


Networking allows you to step out of your comfort zone and to utilize this time for interviewing experience too. Ultimately, you are getting comfortable with your elevator pitch and talking about your own life passions, experiences and career endeavors. It's a great stage where you get to practice your lines.


Get nervous talking about yourself? It's ok! You can say that out loud to someone new you are meeting.


Example: "I am Jane and I own Jane's Bakery in Brooklyn. I always get nervous at networking events so I like to start with the five questions game. Why don't you start with a question and then we will switch? It will help me out a lot"! Throw a quick joke in there and you are breaking the ice. Being nervous does not mean you are not confident. There are a lot of shy, successful people in this world. Own it!


Dress the part!


If you feel good, look good and are polished, you will naturally have more confidence. This is always true in any situation. A Conscious choice for all? Upcycled fashion of course, along with natural makeup products will have you standing out, but knowing you have done something good for the environment while you share your passions with the world! This is for all genders! Upcycle, upcycle, upcycle and your wallet will thank you too!


Lastly...


Follow your intuition. I always meditate and prepare ahead of time for any event. I consciously check in with myself to see how I am feeling, how the energy feels. Is it supported? Should I even attend? Most of the time, the answer is yes. On a few occasions, the answer has been no and I have stayed home, only to learn that following my intuition saved me from something that I could not see until later. True examples: 1) A car crash that backed traffic up for hours and I would have missed the event. 2) Getting a call a week later that several guests had tested positive for Covid and many people were sick.


Always trust your inner gut and if you are attending events, continue to utilize your intuition to guide conversation. You never know who may enter your world! (and vice versa). Live your life to the fullest! Stay Conscious. Share your light. Be creative. Have fun! Repeat.


Growth and success is a conscious choice. Learning to live a Conscious Lifestyle are skills that will continue to nurture, nourish and guide. Don't be afraid to be who you are.


You've got this.



In Consciousness,


Danielle Federico



p.s. Drop some of your own tips and tricks for networking in the comments below! I would love to hear from our Community. If you are looking for Conscious Lifestyle Coaching, NLP (a language based modality to help reframe subconscious/limiting beliefs) or Hypnosis, send an email to modernspirit@comcast.net for a connection call! I look forward to hearing from you.











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