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Jim Higgins, ProForma Branding Excellence

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How To Turn Boring Small Talk Into Big Results

Few would argue that networking is an essential practice for business success.

Why, then, are so many people turned off by the process?

I’ve interviewed hundreds of professionals, business people, and executives about this very issue.

Can you guess what the top 3 networking turnoffs were?

The top 3 turnoffs were:

  •  Starting up a conversation with strangers – super uncomfortable
  • Breaking into a group of people already in conversation – even more uncomfortable 

And the biggest one of all:

  • Soul-sucking small talk.

I can certainly relate to all of these. I’ve been there too.

But here’s why small talk can actually be a big opportunity for you as you network:

Small talk can actually accelerate the

Know-Like-Trust factor.

How is that? You see, the problem with small talk is not that it’s inane. It’s that we make it boring and inauthentic.

Small talk is really designed to be a “safe” way to give strangers and new connections the feeling that you’re interested in them, their business, who they are, and in building a new relationship with them.

Small talk can include, but is not limited to:

  • Talking about sports
  • Talking about business news
  • Talking about mutual hobbies and interests
  • Talking about common ground: where you grew up, where you went to school/college, who you know in common
  • Yes, the weather as well

And when small talk is falling flat, you’ll know – just check out your colleague’s body language and facial expressions!

But small talk can then graduate to a deeper level when you ask exploring “icebreaker questions” about books read, events attended, and learning about the thoughts and business or career viewpoints of your new colleague.

Think of it this way:

Small talk can be a very graceful way to open bigger doors to the relationship.

How can you begin to make smarter small talk – and stop being an inauthentic bore?

Fundamentally, its critical to avoid resisting the process. You see, what you resist will persist. If you keep seeing networking and small talk as uncomfortable or drudgery, you will prevent or delay the enormous results that networking can produce.

So here are my 5 tried & true, sure-fire ways of transforming inauthentic, boring small talk into authentic business results:

1. Ask great open-ended questions (see my 55 Icebreaker Questions ™ if you haven’t already checked them out and downloaded them).

2. Smile during small talk – such a small action that goes a very long way to building rapport and extending the comfort level between new connections.

3. Apply a small amount of small talk, a big amount of active listening

4. Be prepared – check out the backgrounds and profiles of new networking colleagues before the event. What charities do these folks support, what associations do they belong to, what schools did they attend? Develop and practice a smattering of conversation starters in topics of interest to your new contacts.

5. Be authentically interested. Small talk isn’t inauthentic, people are. If you’re not really interested in people, you won’t be able to hide it.

 

10-Min Way To Stay In Touch & Pump Up Sales

It’s that time of year when we naturally stay in touch – with family, friends, clients and colleagues. It feels so wonderful to be in connection with the people in our lives.

So, why don’t we do this year round in our business when it would maximize our results?

Case in point:

My client, Eric is an intellectual property attorney.

He was disturbed because his referrals seemed to be drying up.

I asked, “When was the last time you put a stay in touch campaign out there to your connections?”

He said, “I know, I know. You’re right. But I’m so busy.”

You know and I know:

Busy won’t grow new business for you.

(this is a good one to tweet- just click!)

So…

Eric and I put a put together a simple but powerful STAY IN TOUCH CAMPAIGN. It was comprised of content and other high-value communications, some digital and some more personal, “dripped out” (consistently, regularly sent out at designated intervals) to key referral sources, colleagues, current clients and past clients over the next 6 months.

This sounds like it would take a huge amount of time, right? It is a campaign, after all.

Not so.

Each stay in touch effort took no more than 10 minutes! Less time than drinking a cup of coffee.

The results? Not surprisingly, Eric’s referrals started to flow again.

But so much more happened:

  • A past client engaged Eric for two new matters.
  • A connector friend of his invited Eric to speak at his national conference – an entire audience of targeted ideal prospective clients.
  • A referral source asked him to meet with his top two corporate clients – great new leads in his ideal target network.

However, one former client told him, “I wish you had contacted me a couple of weeks ago. I just hired another attorney.”

When Eric asked him why, he said:

“Because he reached out to me at the right time when I needed the advice.”

All of these results demonstrate how necessary it is to stay in touch with people in your professional life, and the high price when you don’t.

Did a smart stay-in-touch campaign take a little time and thought? Yes, of course.

But look at the payoff.

A consistent Stay In Touch program will:

  • Get you more business with current clients and reactivate previous customers and clients.
  • Help you land more leads with key prospects.
  • Entice new referrals and
  • Open doors to lots of unexpected opportunities in your current business and beyond.

I’d going to make it super easy for you to create your own Stay In Touch/Pump Up Your Leads & New Clients Campaign with a simple 5 steps/10 minutes roadmap.

Just click on the link and you can download your complimentary Roadmap. It’s a smart and easy way to ramp up and stay up in your business in 2014.

STAY IN TOUCH ROADMAP – DOWNLOAD NOW.

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