Networking events such as trade shows, expos, seminars, and conferences can open doors of opportunities for you to advance your career or find clients for your business.

For many of you, wading into a sea of people and starting a business conversation with a stranger can be a nerve-wracking experience.

Your mind is flooded with questions, fears, and thoughts of self-doubt…

  • How do I start a conversation?
  • Will the person find me interesting or boring?
  • What do I do if there is an awkward silence?
  • Do I sound like I know what I’m talking about?
  • How do I segue into business talk without sounding opportunistic?

If you’re struggling with making good business conversations, this article’s for you. We’ll share simple tips that will give you more confidence the next time you’re at a networking event or a business meeting in your company.

Why Is It Important To Be Skilled In Business Conversation?

You need to be good at engaging people in conversation not just in networking events but also in the office, on the phone, and even at your own home.


Here are 5 reasons why it’s important to be skilled in business conversation:

1. Be Ready Anytime, Anywhere, and Any Place

Business opportunities can happen anytime, anywhere, and any place.

You could be walking on the treadmill at the gym when a casual conversation about the game on TV becomes an inquiry about your business. Just slow down the treadmill a bit so you won’t run out of breath!

2. Accurately Articulate Key Information About Your Business

“What products does your company carry?”

“Can your company handle a large volume of orders?”

“Can your business accommodate another client?”

How you articulate the required information about your business will determine whether the cash registers will start ringing or stay quiet.

Accurate articulation means conveying the right information to the recipient clearly and concisely. You’ll know if you relayed the information articulately if the recipient asks the right follow-up questions.

3. Avoid Costly Misunderstandings

Miscommunication happens if you’re not able to properly articulate information or instruction. Most of the time, miscommunications occur in the office when you’re talking with a co-worker or an employee.

They can also happen when you’re having a conversation over the phone. The reception can be bad or the person on the other end of the line isn’t engaged in the conversation.

Good conversation creates a feedback cycle naturally. As we’ll discuss with you later, it’s not just how you talk that matters. Body language and facial expression are key components of being a good conversationalist.

4. Be More Productive With Your Time

As the old saying goes, “Do it right, do it once.”

If the person you’re conversing with gives you his business card and a request for a second meeting “at your convenience”, you know you got the job done.

Now, you can put the business card inside your wallet and meet the next potential client.

5. Create a Positive Impression

When you meet someone for the first time and in the course of your conversation, he makes you feel at ease, comfortable, and assured, you’ll view this person as someone confident, intelligent, and friendly.

Imagine if you’re that person and you’re meeting other people for the first time.

If it’s true that first impressions last, then, your first conversation must elicit a positive response from the second party.

6 Tips On How To Be Good In Business Conversation

The truth is, not everyone is born with the gift of gab. And even those who have no problems chatting with new acquaintances, still need to improve their business conversation skills to communicate what they want effectively.

Follow the tips that we’ve outlined below and you’ll quickly become a seasoned expert in business conversation.

1. Prepare Ahead of Time

A networking event presents a great opportunity to discuss your business and your capabilities. Imagine that you’re about to make a presentation to a big client. Only this time, you’ll be repeating the same presentation to a multitude of prospects.

Similar to a business presentation, you have to prepare ahead of time.

  • Review your past performance. How did your business do the previous year? What were your biggest or most notable achievements? What are your plans for this year and the next 5 years?
  • Research about the industry. What are the current trends? What are the biggest news or key issues? What are the latest developments or innovations?
  • Research about the participants. Find out who’s attending the event. If there are people that you’d like to meet, read up about them. How is their business doing? What is his role in the company? What are the notable achievements of the company?
  • Stay updated with current events. Business industry leaders like to stay informed about news that could affect their industry. Read up on social and political issues and formulate opinions. The purpose is not to engage in debates but to exchange ideas and viewpoints.
  • Prepare “marketing materials”. Have your business cards ready. Depending on the nature of your business, you might want to bring company and product brochures with you.

And if your business doesn’t have a website yet, have one ready in time for the event.

Remember this key statistic:

36% of customers prefer to deal with a business that has a website.

When you give a business card, the recipient will scan it for your website address. An email that’s supported by a unique domain name is more impressive than having a or address.

If you need a website for your business, contact us, and let’s have a business conversation via a free 30-minute consultation.

2. Make the First Move

You came on your own to a networking event. Most likely, you’ll be scanning the room and looking for someone you particularly want to meet. If you see that person, don’t hesitate to make the first move and approach… but with caution.

If the person is conversing with a group, casually join in.

Listen to what the conversation is about and observe how the interactions are going about. A good “entry point” is when you have something valuable to contribute to the discussions.

For example:

“Yes, it’s sad that DS Retail had to close down its flagship store in Portland, Maine. It has been in business for more than 100 years. I think the move was more of a realignment strategy to fund the company’s plan to invest US$150 million in e-commerce. Also, I read that DS Retail plans to set up warehousing/distribution facilities in key locations in the US and in Guam.

“By the way, I’m John Smith, Property Analyst for Seaver and Associates. I’d like to say that it’s an honor to meet Mr. Nicholas Sengler. I regularly read your column at Financial Tech International. I used your analysis of the DS Retail’s situation as the primary reference in my report about the retail industry.”

There are 5 things to notice from Mr. Smith’s introduction:

  • He provided factual information about DS Retail.
  • He included information on the latest developments at DS Retail.
  • He introduced himself, his designation, and his company/employer.
  • He showed the participant that he knew who he was.
  • He did a bit of flattery.

For sure, Mr. Smith will stay top-of-mind with the participant because he didn’t offer empty information, articulated his opinion clearly and with facts, and showed admiration.


Website.That .Will .Grow .Your .Business

3. Small Talk Can Lead to Big Opportunity

If you initiate a conversation with a person you don’t know about business matters, there’s a good chance that you’ll put him off. That no-nonsense approach won’t lead to positive results because the other person might find you too forward and abrasive.

First, you have to break the ice by making small talk.

Small talk is a type of conversation that doesn’t cover anything relevant, functional, or controversial. It is a polite and light conversation that’s used to start an informal relationship between 2 strangers.

Here are a few pointers on how to make small talk lead to big results:

  • Start with an informal greeting such as “Hi” or “Hello”. Don’t be too formal by starting with “Good evening, Mr. Smith. How are you doing?”
  • Look approachable and unintimidating. Establish eye contact, greet the other person with a warm smile, and maintain a good, relaxed posture.
  • A good conversation starter would be about the venue or event itself. For example, “Hi! Were you at last year’s convention? It seems like there are more participants this year.”
  • Because you initiated the small talk, make the conversation about the other person.

    In our previous example, if the person responded to your icebreaker with “Yes, I attended last year’s convention and I agree with you. There are certainly more participants this year.”

    You can follow up with “Do you regularly attend these conventions?” By focusing the discussion on the person you’re interacting with, you’ll make him feel more relaxed and confident.

  • Talk about the “small stuff”. Don’t talk about business just yet. You want to let the other person feel at ease with you.

    A good segue is to talk about the “small stuff” or things that aren’t relevant. You can refer to them as inconsequential topics because there’s no harm in talking about them.

    Going back to the sample conversation above, if the response to your question was “I try to attend every year. I’d say I’ve been here 3 out of the last 5 conventions.”

    Your response or quip could be, “One thing I’m happy about is that the food keeps getting better! The boneless chicken fingers are amazing.”

Small talk topics you want to avoid include:

  • Politics
  • Personal matters
  • Gossip
  • Your state of health
  • The cost of things
  • Off-color humor

You can also use small talk to end the conversation. After you’ve discussed the business matters and exchanged business cards, you can close the conversation by saying:

“It was great meeting you, Nicholas. Thanks for the tip about the influx of foreign capital. I’ll look into that some more.”

And if you happen to run into Nicholas again in the event, be ready for more small talk:

“Hello again! How’s the event turning out for you so far?”

Continue to exchange pleasantries to maintain a friendly connection. Remember that in business, establishing successful connections is all about building strong relationships.

4. Be a Good Listener

Communication is a two-way street. When one talks the other must listen. You can’t have a conversation when both people are talking at the same time. And you can’t carry a good conversation if you’re not a good listener.

  • Focus on what the other person is saying.
  • Don’t be distracted in your thoughts, by your cell phone, and by the people around you.
  • Make an effort to understand what the other person is telling you.
  • If you didn’t hear properly because the venue is noisy, respectfully ask by saying…

    “Sorry, can you please repeat that? The part about why real estate prices rose after the pandemic. I didn’t quite get it. The place is getting kind of loud. Thanks!”

  • Maintain eye contact.

If you’re having problems understanding what the other person is telling you because of his diction or accent, don’t be afraid to seek clarification.

He won’t be offended because he knows you’re trying your best to listen intently. Likewise, it probably wasn’t the first time someone had a hard time understanding his accent.

5. Don’t Worry About Making Mistakes

When you’re meeting someone for the first time, it’s normal to be nervous. You want to make a good impression because you’re hoping the conversation will lead to a career opportunity.

However, don’t let the nerves stress you out. The first conversation is always purely exploratory. The person you’re meeting for the first time is probably also nervous.

So don’t worry about making mistakes.

  • The Moment of Awkward Silence – Somehow both people just run out of things to say. It can be quite an uncomfortable situation.

    What you need to know is that it happens to everyone. What’s important is knowing what to do when it does happen.

    The first thing you should do is to do small talk – yet again. Deviate from the previous discussion and ask something more social in the subject matter.

    For example, you can ask…

    “So…what hobbies or interests are you involved in when you’re not working?”

    If you’re both eating, you can say…

    “The salmon is really good; fresh and cooked just right. Do you cook at home?”

    Both of these examples are leading questions that will direct the conversation to a different but otherwise, safe topic.

  • The Moment When You Forget What You Were About to Say – As it turns out, the conversation has been quite lively. One of the things mentioned by the other person caught your attention and triggered a thought balloon.

    You’re about to turn that thought balloon into a verbal opinion when suddenly, the thought balloon pops into nothingness.

    You can’t remember what you were about to say. Now, you have that “deer in the headlight” expression.

    When that happens, make light of the situation…

    “Wow! I was so thrown back by what you mentioned that I forgot what I was about to say! If you receive a text from me tomorrow morning, that’s probably what I was supposed to say.”

    Humor is a secret weapon. Everyone enjoys a good laugh. A person who can make fun of himself is someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously.

  • The Moment You Forget the Person’s Name – You’ve had quite a night. You’ve amassed a nice collection of business cards with a few meetings scheduled for the month.

    It’s time to call it a night.

    On the way out, you run into the first person you met at the event. He says…

    “Hey, John!”

    You’re pleasantly surprised to run into him again. A warm smile starts to curl on your face and you’re about to verbalize a greeting…


    The salutation is left hanging. Your mind scrambles to find the person’s name. But after getting so many business cards and shaking hands, you can’t put a name to the person’s face.

    What do you do?

    “Hey… how are you? What a night, eh? It was a great event. I got to meet wonderful people like you. Let’s catch up again soon. I enjoyed our conversation. If you’re free sometime next week, let’s have coffee.”

    When you forget the name of the person, take control of the conversation. This time, it’s about you, not the other person.

    Give a compliment. Subtle flattery can help camouflage shortcomings. Drop an invite for coffee. This could be another opportunity to take the connection to a new level.

    Here’s an exercise that might help you remember people’s names more often.

    When you receive a business card, look at it then, look at the person’s face. This is an exercise of association. The person’s face will be the last face you see after looking at the business card.

Don’t be hard on yourself if you experience any of these mistakes. Your mind could be running on reserves after processing so much information and navigating through different conversations.

6. Body Language and Facial Expression Play a Role

Do you remember the time when you were having a conversation with someone at a party and noticed that the person looked away while you were still talking?

Didn’t you feel a bit slighted?

People aren’t only listening to what you’re saying. They’re assessing the way you’re acting, moving, and reacting to what they’re saying and whenever you’re talking.

Body language and facial expressions are also called non-verbal cues because we react based on how we’re feeling at the moment. So if we’re bored or disinterested, we tend to look away, fidget, or worse, look at our watch.

For this reason, body language and facial expression play big roles in a business conversation. They’re seen as signals of how the conversation is coming along. You don’t want to put off the person you’re trying to impress.

Here are some tips on how to use body language and facial expressions to enhance a business conversation:

  • Have a Strong Posture – Stand straight with your shoulders back. If you’re not holding a drink, keep both hands on the sides of your body. It’s okay to keep one hand inside your pants pocket.
  • Maintain Eye Contact – Look at who you’re talking to – naturally, not intensely! Relax. It’s perfectly okay to blink. Eye contact isn’t a staring contest.
  • Use Your Other Body Parts – Hands can be used to emphasize certain points of the conversation. For example, the thumbs-up sign can be used to emphasize approval.
  • Have a Warm Smile – A warm smile is disarming but you don’t have to keep it “cheek-to-cheek” wide all the time. A small curl of mouth will be just fine.
  • Use Other Facial Expressions – If the other person says something shocking, you can react by raising both eyebrows. Whatever the reason, make a conscious effort to never yawn!

Lastly, if you’re carrying a small plate of food or a drink, partake of them while the other person is talking. Take only small nibbles of food or a quick sip so you can give an immediate response.


Business conversation is a skill. As such, the best way to be good at it is through constant repetition.

Practice the tips we outlined in this article with your friends and officemates. Practice body language and facial expressions in the bathroom. Stay well-read and informed through research. Join in as many networking events as possible.

Let us know if you improved your skills in business conversation and if our tips helped you out. Check out our other blogs. We can write great content for you!

And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with friends who are struggling with business conversation.