We attend a lot of networking meetings as part of Trischel getting out and about. This often involves conversations with a variety of interesting people and of course the 5 minute or 60 second infomercial. Sometimes we hear guest speakers and often we are the guest speakers.

So at a recent networking meeting I was sitting back taking a breather and indulging in my favourite occupation of people watching and reflecting on the conversations going on around the room. There was a lot of talking but I stopped and thought was there really a lot of actual communication.

To effectively network you need to know the difference between conversation and communication and know which one to use in which situation.

We all can make conversation. It is easy we do it from the time we start to speak. Conversation is about relationship building. It is about telling each other about ourselves, it’s about making connections and finding common points of reference. It can be as simple as discussing the weather or as complex as sharing our secrets or desires. Conversation is about making friends and sharing news. In conversation we can shade the truth or side step things that might impact on the relationship; we can stop and start switching from one topic to another. For example, we might not disclose our political leanings or religious thoughts to avoid unnecessary discomfort in the relationship.

Conversation is an integral part of networking. We need to build the relationship and the rapport with fellow networkers. However, we need to know when to switch from conversation to communication.

Communication is about making a connection with a person or audience to achieve a particular aim. It might be to inspire, instruct or inform. It could be to sell your business product or expertise. For communication to be effective you need to know what your aim is, what you want to achieve; you need to be able to clearly, concisely and competently transmit your message so that it is received clearly by the listener. You need to listen to ensure that your message has been received and you need to listen to ensure that you are answering the questions that are being asked not the questions you think are being asked. Communication in business needs to be precise and truthful. You can’t claim your product will do something it doesn’t.

So when do you switch from conversation to communication when you are networking. The obvious time is that 60 second or 5 minute infomercial. You have to be precise, concise and clear to get your message across in the short time you have.

First, decide what your aim is going to be – is it to advertise a new product or service, is it to inform about your business. Once you have your aim clear in you mind you need to put together words that will sell your message and then present them with the emotional connection that will get the person or audience to buy in and commit to you. Your message then has to finish with a call to action. What you want your fellow networkers to do – call you, make a connection or buy your product.

So next time you are at a network event – ask yourself am I having a conversation or am I communicating and which is going to be effective in achieving my aim at this particular moment. If you want to develop relationships you need to be having a conversation but once you have the relationship you need to switch to effective communication to make the sale or achieve your business aim. Especially when giving those infomercial segments.

I look forward to meeting you at future networking events. I will be the one making conversation and building relationships and doing what I love doing – passionately communicating effectively about our communication training business.

Trish @ Trischel

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