Is it OK to talk about personal topics at business events?

Q & A by Donna FeldmanAt a recent presentation, we were asked, “You say that talking about personal topics while networking is good, but if I’m at a business event, isn’t that inappropriate? Won’t the other person be offended?”

Remember that the purpose of networking is to create relationships. The people you want to establish better relationships with have a personal life, just like you do. There’s nothing wrong with having a conversation on topics other than work or business. Talking about personal topics allows you to get to know each other better. People are always more likely to buy from those they know, like, and trust.

If I find out you like Duke basketball, I feel an instant connection with you, because I like Duke basketball. That has nothing to do with business, but it deepens our bond and gives us another way to relate to each other. Because of that connection, we’ll enjoy talking to each other more, even when we’re talking about business issues.

People hunger for connections of all types with each other. Do you doubt it? Just think about how often when you meet someone, you start trying to find ways to connect. “Oh, you’re from Wisconsin? Where? I went to college in Waukesha.” “You grew up in Denver? What high school did you go to?” We play the connections game all the time, as we try to find ways that we are like others.

So, do make it personal, even when you’re doing business networking.
You’ll find that your networking connections will become deeper and more satisfying.

This article was co-authored by Donna Feldman and Cindy Rold. Donna and Cindy are The Networking Gurus.

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