Years ago, my roommate Deana was a hospitality major who got to take the most popular course on campus at the time: Beverage 101. She was required to sample different beers in one class, wines in another, and spirits in others as part of the training about the role of liquor in restaurants and bars. Whenever Deana came back to the apartment, she was brimming with a different story about the brewing, production, ingredients and history of these popular drinks. It was from her that I learned the phrase, “cocktail conversation.”
When you’ve put the right story into your message or self-introduction, especially during the holiday events ahead, it’s going to be repeated to others informally as “cocktail conversation” as well as in business settings. This repetition of your story will help to establish your expertise and name in the influential circles in which you travel. Think of a few people who impressed you recently at a networker. What did they say that motivated you to continue talking with them?
Here are my challenges to you, as we go into the holiday season: What story or stories can you prepare to make your interactions at the holiday events coming up more memorable and rewarding? How can you become a better listener, so you can maximize the potential from each new contact you make? And how can you strengthen the relationships you already have built?
Here are a few networking pointers:
- Keep the anecdotes as short but lively as possible, maybe 1-2 minutes maximum for each.
- Be sure there are no underlying, unintentional digs or attacks, political or personal.
- Include a dramatic twist or high point that is easy to remember.
- Focus on some truly positive outcome that doesn’t appear to be bragging. Ideally, it’s either humorous or helpful to the listener, or both.
- Always bring the conversation back to the person with whom you’re speaking by asking a relevant question about their experience or familiarity with what you’ve shared.
- If they have no response, be ready with another question about that person’s interests to keep the conversation going!
Best Regards,Anne B. Freedman