Networking Conversations Don’t Have to Feel Awkward

Effective tips on how to have meaningful and interesting conversations while networking

Photo portrait of Alison Foo, MSc, PMP
Alison Foo, MSc, PMP

Alison Foo is a career, communication and leadership coach. She’s passionate about changing lives through teaching professional skills. She has worked with graduate students, newcomers, marginalized groups, and professionals from various industries. Her specialty is the clinical and research sectors. Alison is also a clinical research professor. She teaches at Seneca College, McMaster University Continuing Education, and ACCES Employment. Previously, she worked on all phases of clinical trials and specialized in clinical trial management, clinical data management, clinical monitoring, and stakeholder management. When she’s not working or volunteering, she’s spending time with her rescue dog, watching Asian TV, and saving recipes she’ll never use.

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Published:Nov 24, 2023
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Networking for Clinical Lab Professionals Part 2: Conversational Strategies

Small talk can be awkward and tedious. It feels as though we’re just going through the motions of asking and answering mundane questions. So how do you network if you dread making small talk? The answer is simple. Don’t make small talk! Have meaningful and interesting conversations with everyone, every time. It’s easier than you think, and I’ll show you how in the second webinar of my four-part networking series. 

In the webinar, Networking for Clinical Lab Professionals Part 2: Conversational Strategies, I’ll explain how communications must include authenticity, trust, commonality, and likeability in order to build meaningful connection. This is why communication is the most challenging foundational skill of networking. 

(I recommend first watching Networking for Clinical Lab Professionals: A Different Perspective.)

I started working my way up to networking when I was a student. In fact, I developed my first conversational strategy when I was in high school while working as a cashier at a popular fast-food chain. 

While enduring brief interactions with countless customers, I noticed the superficiality of asking people, “How are you?” Every single customer asked this, but most proceeded to place their order without hearing my response. On rare occasions, customers would genuinely want to know how I was doing. They would look me in the eyes, ask the question, listen to my answer, and acknowledge my response before placing their order. Those pleasant exchanges always made my day. This is how I discovered the power of “How are you” to set first impressions, make others feel seen, and build connection with strangers. Thanks to that first job, I changed how I ask and respond to “How are you?” and this simple change has been opening doors for me ever since.

I’m sharing this and other conversational strategies that I’ve developed. These methods have helped my clients improve the way they approach and interact with others. As a result, they’ve been able to create mutually beneficial relationships, network successfully, and take large steps toward achieving their goals. 

Watch Networking for Clinical Lab Professionals Part 2: Conversational Strategies to learn

  • how to make a good first impression
  • how to interact authentically
  • how to make requests effectively using real-world scenarios
  • how to enunciate more clearly (especially helpful if English is your second/third/fourth language), and
  • how to end conversations graciously (in case they aren’t going the way you’d hoped).

Part 3: The next step is to apply what you’ve learned to leverage or expand your current network. Regardless of who you’re trying to connect with, LinkedIn is the best networking platform, so the next webinar in this series is all about LinkedIn strategies. 

Networking for Clinical Lab Professionals Part 2: Conversational Strategies

Alison Foo, MSc, PMP
Alison Foo, MSc, PMP

Alison Foo is a career, communication and leadership coach. She’s passionate about changing lives through teaching professional skills. She has worked with graduate students, newcomers, marginalized groups, and professionals from various industries. Her specialty is the clinical and research sectors. Alison is also a clinical research professor. She teaches at Seneca College, McMaster University Continuing Education, and ACCES Employment. Previously, she worked on all phases of clinical trials and specialized in clinical trial management, clinical data management, clinical monitoring, and stakeholder management. When she’s not working or volunteering, she’s spending time with her rescue dog, watching Asian TV, and saving recipes she’ll never use.


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Careersnetworking professional development
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How do you network if you dread making small talk?
iStock, Edwin Tan