Networking for Success
Copyright © Craig Warren
In my mind, small talk basically consists of 3 phases:
-> The ice breaker
-> Get to know you better
-> Graceful exit
So let’s go ahead and briefly touch on each phase and in
turn give you some concrete takeaway strategies that you
can apply immediately for each.
Phase 1: The Ice Breaker
So you attend a networking event you make eye contact
with someone you want to meet, you approach them and
introduce yourself now what?
Well having a few powerful, open-ended ice breaker
questions should certainly do the trick. For example:
A tried and true ice breaker is the proverbial, So Jeff,
what do you do? In other words Jeff, what business are
you in? Now people love talking about themselves and
their business so the idea here is to get them started
talking. Most people also love to hear the sound of
their own voice so the ice breaker question is critical
and essentially sets the tone and potential for the
Another good ice breaker could be, So Jeff, what brings
you here today? Now notice on these sample ice breaker
questions I’ve repeated the person’s name. First off, by
doing this it will help burn that person’s name into my
head so I don’t forget it. Secondly, people love the
sound of their own name so don’t be afraid to use it
throughout your conversation.
Phase 2: Get To Know You Better
Depending on the results of the ice breaker questions
you should by now be able to determine whether or not
it makes sense to get to know this person better. If
not, simply skip this phase and go into your graceful
exit. But if you do see a synergy here, by all means
try some of these again open-ended, getting to know you
* So Jeff, how did you get into that business?
* What types of challenges keep you up at night?
* Jeff, help me out here, draw me a mental picture,
what does success look like for you and your business?
* Whats new in your industry these days? Any events or
trends that are shaping it?
Now you can use one, two, all of these questions, or more
if the situation permits. However, be careful here not to
dominate and monopolize someones time. If you’re at a
networking event, there’s a good chance that they’re there
to network and meet other people as well, so it may make
sense to go to the graceful exit phase and encourage that
you two get together in the near future.
Phase 3: Graceful Exit
It’s vastly important how you leave a conversation as this
is the last impression you make on that person. We’re not
looking to create any animosity here by rudely blowing
someone off. The key here is as this phases title states,
is to exit gracefully.
A key difference between the types of questions or
statements you make in this phase as opposed to the
previous two phases is that now you shift to using
For example: Introduce the person to someone else that
may be of interest to them and then politely excuse
yourself. The dialogue can go something like this: Hey
Cindy Id like you to meet Jeff. Jeff’s in the xyz industry
as well and I just felt that you two should meet. Now
they exchange pleasantries and you immediately exit the
conversation by saying something like, Well you two
probably have a bunch to talk about. Cindy I’ll catch up
with you later and Jeff, it was great meeting you.
Another example of a graceful exit may be: I can
certainly see some synergy between what you and I do.
Can I give you a call next week to set up some time to
talk further? Or, its been great meeting you, will I see
you at future meetings? And lastly, wow, this is quite an
event don’t you think? Well, we should probably keep moving
it was great meeting you Jeff!
So now you’re aware of and armed with some actual
strategies for the 3 phases of small talk. The key now is
to get in the game and practice, practice, practice and
you too can see the results you would like for your
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