5 Awkward Business Networking Moments!

Here are five of the most common awkward business networking moments I have experienced and some suggestions about how to handle.

How Do I Start a Meaningful Conversation?

awkward-moment-signIntroduce yourself and then say, “May I share a quick story?” Then share a story about something that recently happened to you or something you’re dealing with. Don’t get too personal and don’t spend more than a minute or two with your story. Just be real. Then ask if they have a similar experience. You may feel a connection after sharing stories. Then ask questions about their work, goals, connection to the meeting or event, and what they’re looking to accomplish over the next 90 days. They may ask you similar questions “How about yourself?” Now you’re having what the experts call a “meaningful conversation”.

What Should I Do If I Forget Someone’s Name?

Just ask! “I’m sorry; I forgot your name.” Be apologetic and self-effacing. Keep in mind that you probably didn’t “forget” their name. You simply weren’t listening to it because you were focused on the next thing you were going to say. To avoid that, repeat the person’s name back to them. If it’s a common name like Tom, associate this person with someone you know named Tom. If it’s an unusual name, ask for the proper spelling and make sure you’re pronouncing it correctly. In fact, practice by using that person’s name when speaking with them. They will be appreciative that you’re looking to get their name correct. Keep in mind they have been dealing with having an unusual name their whole life so make the experience they’re having with you a good one.

What Can I Do If I’ve Done Something Embarrassing or Stupid?

As Lieutenant Dan said in the movie Forrest Gump. “Two standing orders in this platoon. One, take good care of your feet. Two, try not to do anything stupid, like gettin’ yourself killed.” Or by saying something stupid that will make the situation awkward. An apology will handle most mistakes – unless it’s disrespectful or mean spirited. Discussions about income, politics, or charged positions you have about anything that is going to create a conflict should be avoided. The goal when meeting others at an event is to make a good impression and begin a meaningful business relationship. Not prove how smart you are, successful you are, or how good you are at something.

What If I’m Speaking With Someone and Someone Else Interrupts Us?

It depends. If you know you can circle back with the person you were speaking with later, say goodbye and mention that you will find them later. Another approach might be to mention to the person that interrupted that you’re wrapping up your conversation soon and can they give you a few minutes to finish? This will let them know that they are interrupting without creating a conflict or awkward moment.



Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg has helped financial advisors, brokers, agents, reps, wholesalers and other sales producers generate hundreds of thousands of dollars to their bottom line. His firm Knock Out Networking, LLC is renowned as a speaking and training resource in the financial services industry. Described by clients as a “spark plug”, Michael is a master at invigorating and engaging audiences. His “knock-out” style is “in your face” and high energy. His content is “real world” and can be applied immediately. Michael speaks at conferences and associations, runs sales meetings, and delivers “results driven” programs on networking, referral marketing, and sales presentations. Clients include John Hancock Investments, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Guardian Life, Jackson National, Penn Mutual, AXA Advisors, Prudential, MetLife, New York Life, Thrivent Financial, Colonial Life, and Chubb & Son. Michael writes regular columns for the Huffington Post, Life Health Pro, Producers Web, Producers E-Source, Horsesmouth and has been quoted in the Harvard Business Review and Wall Street Journal. Michael has spoken at numerous conferences in the financial services industry including the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) and has spoken for TEDx at Yale University. Educational background includes a Masters Degree in Training and Organization Development from Lesley University and a Bachelors Degree from CUNY Brooklyn in Hospitality Management. Michael is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), an earned designation awarded by the National Speakers Association and the International Federation for Professional Speakers to recognize demonstrated commitment to the speaking profession through proven speaking experience. Fewer than 10 percent of the thousands of speaking professionals worldwide hold this designation. He is currently an award winning adjunct professor at Rutgers University and frequently volunteers as a speaker at organizations focused on career search.

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