I was out and about in town last night and just had to blog today…
I met a businessman I’d never met before, who simply ‘launched!’
He proudly blustered about how he has little time for ‘small talk’ and just likes to get straight to business…we’ve seen the before (sadly I’m sure we’ll see them again..)
It’s such a brutal approach, and frankly I wonder if many networkers like him, realise what they are doing when out networking?
It’s simply building relationships ….
How much business talk do you think goes on at networking events?
Please get a figure in your head before moving on.
What do you think?
From what I experience, I’d imagine it’s a low percentage. Anywhere between about 5% and 20%.
That makes the rest of the talk, ‘small talk’.
Though it’s the only phrase we have, I genuinely dislike this label.
When we use the word small, it most commonly indicates something of insignificance. I think it’s this label that inhibits people from understanding the importance of Small Talk.
Small talk is far from insignificant, as I believe you can’t do big business without the small talk.
I mostly find it’s ‘rocket launch’ networkers are the people who usually don’t stop talking themselves and who don’t normally walk away with many, if any, significant new business opportunities. How could they? They’ve built no rapport!They’ve not been listening! They’ve been waiting for their opportunity to speak and sell.
It’s fair to say, particularly in the advice giving sector (as opposed to the transactional sector), that people buy people. My advice to the chap last night, would be to accept that networking is a farming not a hunting process.
In general, most people prefer to do business with people:
• They like
• Who like them
• Who are like them
• Who like the same things as them
…and it’s in the Small Talk that we find out :
• What they’re like
• What they like
• If we like them
• If they’re like us
• And importantly… If they like us
Judging by the stalled conversations and the worries that people share with me about going networking, I believe that most people simply fail to prepare for the Small Talk.
They fail to prepare things to chat about and to ask questions about.
So if we accept how valuable small talk is, in the relationship building process, then surely it certainly warrants some time investment, during the preparation and planning phase for any event, don’t you think?
Here’s my tip.
Have a raft of topics, apart from business, to ask your prospect about. Prepare these in advance. Grab a paper, grab a magazine, listen to a chat show on the radio, in car on the way to the event, but do pop various topics in your pocket, before you arrive
• Current affairs
• The day’s news headlines and burning topical issues
• Latest movies
• Or you can even listen for other people’s accents and try “It doesn’t sound like you’re a local, where do you come from originally?”
This will lay the foundation for relationship-building and will create the first link, the initial connectivity, between you and your prospect. It’s from here that anything is possible…. But if you don’t walk through ‘here’ moving forward to new opportunities is most probably impossible
Just this little shift in awareness and preparation can begin to make your networking less stressful and more effective………… it would also make it a more pleasant experience for us all
Let me know….
What’s made you SHRUG out there, lately?