Lessons In Networking for Better Business

A study at the Stanford University School of Business tracked a group of MBAs 10 years after they graduated. The result? Grade point averages had no bearing on their success — but their ability to converse with others did.

Being able to connect with others through small talk can lead to options and possibilities you may not have known existed. Your ability to connect with people  may not come natural and that’s OK.  Maximizing small talk is an acquired skill.

Maximizing Small Talk

The ability to make small talk can help you develop your networking skills, find joint venture partners, make friends, maintain relationships, and even contribute to building your business. However, some people look down on small talk and it can be a difficult skill to master.

Small talk is so important because it can define you as insecure and aloof. However, when mastered, it can position you as confident and knowledgeable. Today you will also learn some important do’s and don’ts, as well as how to close out a conversation. You will have an opportunity to think about situations where you have successfully engaged in small talk and what lessons you can take away from those scenarios.

So, What Is Small Talk

Small talk often has a bad reputation. Some think of it as the poor cousin to a “real” conversation, and it certain cultures it is not valued at all. There are others who mistakenly view small talk as fake or being phony – it is neither. Many people believe small talk is annoying talk. However, without small talk, many of us will never get to those “real” conversations. Small talk helps us put others at ease and make them comfortable. Small talk breaks the ice and the barriers that formal dialogue creates. Small talk removes tension and the challenge of jumping into the nuts and bolts of dialogue that may not be necessary. I would also suggest that small talk gives you an opportunity to let others get a glimpse of your personality and that certainly goes a long way toward furthering a relationship.

When you are out with a gathering of colleagues, do you find it easy to just chat away without thinking of what to say next?

How do you handle it when you get thrown in with a group of people you don’t know?

How and why are these two situations different?

Where do you find topics of conversation that you can bring up at the next party or office get-together?

Where have you seen good conversational openers demonstrated?

What are some ways you have successfully started conversations with people you didn’t know?

Maximizing Small Talk

What Works?

  • As important as what you say, is how you say it. Wear a smile. It is always becoming to your voice.
  • If you find yourself alone, look for others who look similarly disengaged or join a group with an odd number of people. You could also pass the cheese tray or sample the buffet table.
  • One tip that often works is to imagine you are host or hostess. Now you will be less worried about yourself and more concerned about other people.

What Doesn’t Work?

  • Don’t attempt to make a derogatory remark under the guise of humor (that’s sarcasm).
  • Don’t try to shock. Some people are hard to shock anyway, and others may be shocked in a very negative way, so it just isn’t worth the risk.
  • Lengthy emotional debates will not contribute to the gathering. Death, politics, religion, illness, and children usually head the list of subjects to be avoided. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, take care, use common sense and stay focused on the outcome you want from the engagement.

Exit Lines

No matter how seriously you try, not all conversations can be made into engaging discussions. Eventually even good conversations may come to an end. Tell the other person how much you have enjoyed speaking with them and go on to meet other people. If you are really interested and want to continue the conversation at a later time or get to know more about their business and exchange business cards – tell your listener and request a business card. Be sure to shake hands and end with a smile. More on delivering a great handshake…

Here's a Strategy


Check out 12 Strategies For Maximizing Small Talk




Work-thru Journal


What are some productive and creative opening for small talk? What are some exit lines that let you bring a conversation to a close? …

Please share your thoughts below, I would love to hear from you!


In awareness, joy, passion & purposeful networking,





Andrea Callahan is a brand designer. She helps passion & purpose-driven entrepreneurs maximize their strengths to craft and implement an image that represents their WHY and to use that why to position themselves as an Industry Influencer. She a speaker, seminar leader and the author of, "It's Your Brand ~ Make Your Identity Clear" available on Amazon.com Callahan launched the Industry Influencer Academy at academy.andreacallahan.com

I Would Love to Hear From You...

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