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How to beat the small talk: Midstate leaders open their playbook

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I recently asked for some feedback on networking and tips from the CBPJ Women in Leadership Facebook page. The responses were great, anything from simple thank-you notes to attending events with a purpose.

I pulled together some of those responses for this newsletter.

If you would like to be a part of our online conversation on our Facebook page, I welcome you to join our Facebook group, search CPBJ Women in Leadership to find us. In between newsletters we share information and industry insights. 

Here's my post seeking feedback: 

While having the "luxury" of cleaning my kitchen last night ;-) ... I was listening to one my favorite podcasts, and the subject of networking/small talk surfaced.

It's a subject that comes up a lot during my WIL (Women in Leadership) interviews, and it's one that brings a bit of terror for those who struggle with small talk. So let me crowdsource it here.

What's your go-to networking tip?


Here's a sampling of their answers:

Think of your best friend and remember that there was a time before you knew her. At some point you met her. Then look at the room as full of people who could be just as important in your life. A roomful of diamonds, and it’s the privilege of a lifetime to get to meet them. That helps me to see potential and want to connect when I network.

-Anne Parmer, community and engagement lead, andCulture

Don't feel like you MUST work the ENTIRE room. TRULY connect with a few people and always follow up after the meeting to get together one-on-one. When you meet one-on-one, use that as an opportunity to bring referrals and personal introduction prospects so that you are always bringing value to others and being a great connector.

-Jenifer Epstein, partner at New York Life Insurance Co.

 Always have a purpose for every event you attend. Do you want to meet one new person? Do you want to learn one new thing? Whatever it is...define the purpose and hold yourself accountable to do it.

-Claudia Moreno Williams, founder of The Human Zone

Take a friend or colleague to an event as a guest. You can introduce them, mentor them and if you get locked into a chat-group their presence gives you a graceful exit. After the event, a hand-written note or a follow up request for coffee or lunch often takes my personal engagement strategy to a more rewarding level.

-Virginia Roth, president of PPO&S 

The most successful connections happen when you make the OTHER PERSON the focus. Ask questions about their work, work projects, what their passionate about. And then... listen. If you make it about THEM, they will tell you exactly how and in what direction you can take the connection. Unfortunately, most people try to fill dead air with talking about themselves and their needs and fail to listen. “Networking” is simply the medium for making meaningful connections.

-Una Martone, president of Leadership Harrisburg 

When Michele Engle and I are at a networking event and see folks standing alone, we’ll make sure to go over and introduce ourselves. Great way to meet new people!

-Lynn Stickler, senior account executive for Central Penn Business Journal

Always, always, always follow-up after the event. I send an email, then mail handwritten notes.

-Karen Saxe Eppley, Marketing Muse

I often look for people standing alone at a hightop table and ask if I can share their space and then share my most embarrassing networking story of food going everywhere because I tried to make do with balancing it all. 

-Lutricia Eberly, director of sales, Roundtop Mountain Resort


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Cathy Hirko

Cathy Hirko

Cathy Hirko is managing editor, news, for the Central Penn Business Journal. Email her at chirko@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter, @CathyHirko.

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