The Key to Starting a Powerful Conversation: A Transition Sentence!
Anyone can do a google search for the ‘best questions to use when networking’, or the ‘most effective sentences to start with at a conference, meeting etc’, but what everyone is missing is the master of all sentences, the transition sentence, which truly enables us to move past small talk and dive into deeper conversations.
Don’t get me wrong, having a list of scientifically proven questions that make us happier is an amazing resource, but it’s highly unlikely that someone is going to walk up to stranger and start with, “Hi, I’m Alyce, so, what absolutely excites you right now?”, or “When and where were you happiest in your life?” Which is why we need to focus on having a transition sentence that allows us to naturally pivot from polite introductory questions into more meaningful conversations.
When I say ‘transition sentence’ I want you to imagine a bridge. Something that’s simple, yet super effective and enables people to naturally connect on a deeper level without feeling pushy or awkward. You can also think back to writing essays in college and using transition sentences as connectors. Using transition sentences in an essay or verbally while networking is very similar. The goal is to glue our ideas together so we can express ourselves effectively and learn about others..
Pushy and awkward are the last two things anyone wants to feel when they’re networking especially if you’re just starting out on your networking journey and your confidence isn’t as high as you’d like it to be. To illustrate that (that’s a transition phrase right there!), here are some example transition sentences that I’ve used over the years to not only introduce myself from a more strategic (WHY driven place), but that I also use when I don’t want to talk about the weather or hear one more financial planner pitch me on their products and services. (apologies to all the financial planners out there for that slight dig).
The words italicized are transition words, just fyi :)
Example #1 -
Question - “So, what do you do?”
Answer - “Well, what I believe to be true is that when people know how to build strong relationships and maintain them over periods of time they not only afford themselves more opportunities but the people around them have more opportunities as well. In other words, I coach and consult individuals and teams on how to network effectively to actually see results. I’m curious to know, what do you believe to be true about your line of work?”
The sentence above includes part of my ‘WHY’ statement (...What I believe is….) and I use the word, Well, to transition from answering a ‘what’ question into a more purposeful answer that will be more impactful thanks to the research shared in Simon Sinek’s incredible Ted Talk, ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’.
Sharing a ‘why’ statement has been scientifically proven to connect to the part of our brains that are responsible for our emotions which is the backbone of trust and loyalty aka strong connections! If you’re interested in more tools to create a powerful ‘why’ sentence check out Simon’s website here! Also, feel free to check out a blog I wrote in 2015 entitled, ‘3 Basic Steps to Improve Your Elevator Pitch.’
The sentence above also ends with a non traditional way of by passing a lot of small talk and giving the other person an opportunity to inevitably share what they do but also talk from a more personal place about how their values or beliefs align with the line of work they’re in.
Example #2 -
Question - “Why did you come to this conference today?”
Answer - “Oh, it’s something I come to every year and it’s something I have to do for my job.”
Question - “Ah, interesting. For the purpose of networking, I’d like to learn more about. That being said, “What's the most important thing I should know about you in order to help make strategic introductions on your behalf?”
Answer - “Hmm, that’s a good question, the most important thing about me. Well…..”
In this example I share an opportunity where you can be totally honest and straightforward with your networking intentions which generally adds clarity to a conversation and takes the ‘elephant out of the room’. There’s no need to tip-toe around having intentional conversations and it’s up to all of us to make the most of our time and energy while networking. If you find yourself stuck on the ‘small talk merry-go-round’, then do yourself a favor and thank the person for their time, hop off and find someone else to connect with!
The last thing I want to point out from the example sentence above is that the question focuses on the other person with the goal of helping them find more strategic connections. Anytime you can use the ‘A.S.K.’ Concept while networking, which stands for - Always Seek Knowledge of Others, you’ll likely extract more information from the other person that goes deeper than learning their name and what they do.
I’m a big fan of using the transition phrase, “I’m so curious to learn more about…. your work, your favorite restaurants to eat at in Denver or ways I can support your networking goals.” I also like to use, “I know this is a ‘professional event, but I’m a big believer in getting to know people as people not just learning what their professional title is. That being said, If you had the opportunity to meet one person you haven't met who would it be, why and what would you talk about?” Again, being honest with my intentions relieves a lot of pressure that people generally feel when they’re at a ‘networking event’ and can break down barriers so that people can simply talk to one another and learn more about each other.
To sum up, using a transition sentence, word or phrase is key to increasing your confidence and your ability to push ‘small talk’ to the side and utilize questions that yield happier, more fulfilling conversations for all parties involved.
Do you have a favorite transition sentence, word or phrase that you use while networking? If so, I’d love to hear it and I’d love for you to share it with our community by posting it on my facebook business page here!
As always stay connected,