We get it; when a conversation is so smooth and fun and company are good, it is hard not to talk about things beyond business. However, it is always better to establish some limits, especially if you want to avoid creating a source of tension as you are networking. You would not want to be remembered as the person who made everyone feel uncomfortable in an event and believe me, people can easily remember one for that more than their great business ideas and proposals. Do not let an out-of-the-line remark ruin your overall image, especially not to potential business partners, contacts and network in general. Better to be safe than sorry, and it would do you good to take note of these 4 taboo topics you should avoid talking about while networking.
Sometimes, conversations easily shift to details about personal lives like our relationships, dating life, big family problems, and others. Of course, this is not to say that you should totally avoid talking about yourself. However, remember that the fine line is easily crossed during a good talk with someone you find really relatable. There are proper places and time to talk about those things, but that is not during a business or professional event/gathering/conference. There is a certain charm in talking about your personal experiences, but never forget to always keep the stories “safe for work”. Remember that when you are networking, no matter how nice and approachable they can seem. You will encounter people who do actually talk about private matters, but in these cases, take the safe side and let the person do the talking and you the listening.
Debating about politics, philosophy, and even religious beliefs can be interesting and all, but remember not everyone is up for an open talk. When it comes to talking about things like these, chances are, someone is going to get awkward, offended, or hurt. Politics and religion are sensitive topics for many reasons; for one, arguments get easily heated and tempers easily rise, especially for people a tad bit too passionate in defending their beliefs. For this reason, it is now up to you to be sensitive enough to avoid these topics. You would not want to risk making jokes about them as well. Once you have already offended someone, saying “just kidding” would not really make the situation any better.
If other people in an event do start talking about political and religious matters, the best thing to do is to excuse yourself and keep yourself away from the conversation momentarily. You could go to the comfort room or toilet first; the point is, avoid getting involved.
To many people, especially professionals, engaging in gossip is a major turn off. When you gossip, it says so much more about you than it does about the people you gossip about. Other than that, gossipers actually come off as hard to trust and unreliable. Think of it this way: if you can gossip about other people like that to them, what makes them certain you will not do the same about them when they turn their back? When it comes to networking, the last thing you want to do is to turn everyone off and lose their trust.
Complaints and rants
Other than gossips, what can really ruin a professional image is ratting on about your complaints, dislikes, and the things you hate in work and life in general. On top of the really big risk of offending or hurting someone about the things you despise so much, no one really wants to be friends with someone who keeps on complaining and focusing on the bad things in life. People want someone who will keep the vibes positive and nurturing, especially in the workplace. Just imagine how having the title of being the fault-finding and pessimistic naysayer would impact your overall image among your networks.
Some groups of people are definitely more open to talking about such matters. This is why you really have to get the ‘pulse’ of the crowd. This means you have to observe and check what kind of people you are mingling with. If you do decide to talk about these things, it is still better to be extra careful and watch every word that comes out of your mouth. Bear in mind that you are still treading on a slippery, muddy territory, and one wrong word can make everything go wrong.
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