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Networking 101 – Getting the Conversation Going

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Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Work at finding a balance between serious and lighter conversational topics.”

I am quite guilty of not doing this.  In all honesty, I get so fired up and excited about what it is that I do that that tends to be the only thing that I talk about.

Getting a conversation going however, is also of vital importance and most of us would rather ease into what it is that we do rather than jump right in feet first.

Having an idea of what is happening in the world around us, is always a great ice breaker, especially if it is something light hearted and amusing.  Steer clear of politics and religion though as these can usually end up as heated debates and all thought of discussing business opportunities will fly out of the window.

I subscribe to several ‘news’ type newsletters that arrive in my inbox once or even twice a day that cover not only issues happening in South Africa, but also the world, sport, entertainment (including the latest gossip in Hollywood) and Business.  They have the usual array of ‘funnies’ like Zapiro or Madam and Eve or Taxi and whole host of others too. Two of these that spring to mind are or – the signup to the newsletters are free and it gives me the opportunity of keeping up to date with most of what is going on without cutting down several trees into the bargain.

There are also a host of Myzines that I belong to that also have incredibly solid information, again on a host of topic, but geared mainly for the ladies (sorry guys, but you can also read them), such as or   Both of these have got so much great stuff, that I suggest you actually limit yourself in terms of the time that you spend in the forums and the pages because if you don’t you may very well find yourself spending the whole day there and not getting any work done.

Remember though, always have fun, don’t put yourself under such tremendous pressure that you are too nervous to even utter a word in case you make a mistake with the facts.  This is not a test and you don’t have to learn everything off by heart.  Even if you only remember one line of the story, I am sure that it will spark some conversation and then you can just sit back and listen.  Sooner or later someone will bring the conversation back to the issue of business or Networking.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at