23Feb

How to turn your social chit chat into business chat.

Socialising is all part of networking, but networking is more extensive than this.  The purpose of networking is to create connections between different people with different needs, so how do you turn the socialising and get to the point of having a deeper conversation with someone in the first place?  Networking is a skill, like any others, which means that it needs to be practiced on a regular basis.    

  • Prepare. Take a few minutes to pinpoint a few topics that you enjoy, this will help you feel more confident.
  • Start the chit-chat, ask for stories, not answers, channel your natural curiosity and take a genuine interest in the other person.

Instead of asking. . .

“How are you?”

“Where are you from?”

“What do you do?”

“What line of work are you in?”

Try . . .

“What’s your story?”

“What did you do today?

“What’s the most interesting thing that happened at work today?”

“How did you end up in your line of work?”

“What was the best part of your weekend?”

“What are you looking forward to this week?

Just asking how their week is going can unpack an hour’s worth of conversation.

  • Target. Find a common interest with someone helps to solidify a connection. Look for shared interests or background… Hobbies? Interests? Family? Holiday?  Sports? Music? You’re basically looking for a thread of conversation that you can really sink your teeth into, you’re looking for a great theme for a long, interesting, thought-provoking conversation.
  • Listen. When engaging in conversation, be attentive, be curious, ask questions, and listen to the answer. Make eye contact.
  • Listen harder. Show a high level of interest in the conversation and ask follow up questions to indicate your interest in what they are saying but be open and honest with your reactions, people know when you are real.
  • Don’t give up on a conversation. Some people are difficult to break through in conversation.

As uncomfortable as you feel yourself, the other person may feel even more discomfort in meeting and talking to people they do not know.  Make them feel at ease, keep the conversation at first, broad and quick.

  • Now and then share a few relevant details of your own life to keep the conversation from turning into an interrogation.  Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling, try to get your conversation partner to tell a story, this allows you to learn more about them and what makes them tick.
  • “Small talk” is just that…small. In the networking environment, the goal of the small talk is to get to the next meeting.  When a rapport is established, you will know it. The conversation is smoother, you have found some common interests – a connection. Now your small talk has reached the next level.

Take this social chit chat and turn into business chat.   

Ask people to tell you about problems they solve?

Ask people to tell you what makes them different/or what benefits they offer?

What openings or opportunities they’re looking for?

Ask what them, what do they need?

Are there any connections that they’re looking for?

These are more direct questions. They may have to think for a moment or two and what they need won’t always be related to getting clients, but could still be just as important to their business or even personal situation.

Pay attention to what people say and do about their problems. It will help you make contacts for them.  Being able to see and make connections when they can’t, can really help them out.

Small talk is the forerunner to making a connection and expanding your network. Small talk leads to trust and rapport in a future relationship which leads to greater opportunities down the road. When a topic does click, and you know have common ground, the network has just expanded…well done good job!

When someone asks you what you do for a living, don’t simply say you’re a ……, liven up the conversation by adding a few details about something you accomplished that week or perhaps tell them how you’ve been able to help someone this week.  Tell them a story, after all, we’re all social animals, we need and ‘thrive’ on human interaction.

Lorna Burroughes

Thrive – developing your connections for growth


If you want to keep up to date with networking hints and tips or would like to find out more about how to make business connections and networking in Norwich and Norfolk, please email enquiries@thrive.buzz or ring us on 01603 597727