5 Laws and 5 Flaws of Conversation from ‘The Mingling Maven’

My good friend Susan RoAne recently joined me as a fellow member of the iLearningGlobal.tv faculty and, as I was talking to her about the content she plans to contribute to the iLearningGlobal.tv website, I was suddenly struck with the memory of a great section from her book, How to Work a Room, which talks about casual conversation when networking.

If you have a chance to read the book, I highly recommend it because there are tons of great networking tips throughout the entire book. Not only will you get a great education on networking, you’ll be laughing from beginning to end. That’s one thing anyone who has met Susan knows about her–she’s hilarious!

However, since my blog isn’t supposed to be about my friend Susan’s witty sense of humor (Maybe I’ll start a blog devoted to that later . . . kidding, Susan! :)) and it IS supposed to be about helping you become a better networker, I’ll go ahead and let the excerpt from How to Work a Room which I’ve been alluding to tell you about the five laws and five flaws of conversation:

Five Fundamental Laws of Casual Conversation

  • Be a conversational chameleon. Adapt conversation to the individual by age, interest, profession.
  • Be a name dropper. Always mention the names of people or places you could have in common.
  • Borrow other people’s lives. Share the stories, comments and quips of your friends who have kids, have websites, are tai kwon do students, are Xtreme athletes, have opera tickets–even if you don’t.
  • Be a two-timer. Give people a second chance.
  • Be nice to everyone. Don’t judge tomorrow’s book by today’s cover.

Fatal Flaws of Casual Conversation

  • Being unprepared by not reading papers, trade journals and information sources
  • Controlling conversations by asking a barrage of questions, no matter how open-ended, or telling a nonstop series of jokes
  • Complaining (kvetching); bragging
  • One-upping/competing, interrupting, not listening, slinging put-downs
  • Offering unsolicited feedback

6 thoughts on “5 Laws and 5 Flaws of Conversation from ‘The Mingling Maven’

  1. I especially like the reminder from the “Laws” to remember to “Be nice to everyone.” I have a standing goal for each of my networking meetings to be kind that I consider to be as important as other goals including meeting a certain number of people.

    Last week I was at a networking event and I saw two examples of a completely different approach to networking.

    I saw a very intelligent, energetic, and professionally-dressed person (I’ll call them “A”) go from person to person using all the right “laws” above EXCEPT the “be nice” law. When “A” met another individual that did not meet their goals they were abruptly abandoned. “A” may have thought they were being efficient by spending time only with people that would immediately benefit their network but what “A” did not consider was that others, like me, were watching. “A”‘s message was far from “Givers Gain”. I would not trust this person and I probably won’t do business with them.

    I also saw another young woman (I’ll call her “C”) who actually went out of her way to include a very introverted person in her group’s conversation. As I observed the conversation I confirmed what I suspected – there was very little chance that “C” would directly benefit from this effort. She was just being nice. “C” did not know that I was watching. Later that evening I got the opportunity to return her kindness. “C” needed a favor from someone at the mixer and I got them to agree to do “C” the favor by offering free consulting on “C”‘s behalf.

    Be nice, someone is always watching!

    Jim Thornton

  2. I so appreciate the reminder to be kinder. It is easy to forget simple social graces and manners nowadays. Because I often attend events where I don’t know many folks, I have seen this happen many times. Sometimes I am the one “blown off” and other times I see others brushed away quickly. It leaves a bad impression and I have no desire to do business with that person in any way. I appreciate the tips on casual conversation. I have posted them where I can see them each day before I leave my office for a networking event.

  3. Nice article particularly in this era where good manners and graciousness seem to be a quality abandoned in favor of “me-ism” (if there is such a word.) I am introverted and sometime put myself out there just to counter those tendancies. I especially like the mention of being nice as callousness and insensivity has become so common place in popular culture. I hope to hear more from you as your writing is easy to read, upbeat and offers much value in just a few words.

    Leland M Clark

  4. I think the “one-upping” is a biggy. It seems so common that people don’t even know they are doing it. I find myselft guilty of it. Listen at least 50% of the time. Thanks for bringing it up.

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