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By David RichmanManaging Director, Advisor Institute

Did you approach your last networking event full of intention with the hope of meeting new people, only to get caught up in conversation with one or two encounters? Perhaps it's time to discover the power of "the disengage" when it comes to making first encounters count.

The objective of the disengage is to move on from a conversation while opening the door for a follow-up call with that person. It requires strategy and connectivity.

Strategy to Master the Disengage

There are five steps to making a first encounter count and mastering the disengage:

  1. When approaching someone you don't know, ask: "Do you mind if I join you?"
  2. As the conversation evolves, stay focused on them without looking to talk about yourself.
  3. Without hunting for it, try to identify a desire or need they have with which you could assist by connecting them to someone or something of value.
  4. Use this discovery and your offer to reconnect as a springboard for the disengage.
  5. Ask for their contact info so you can follow up with your someone or something of value as promised.

Connectivity to Something of Value

An essential ingredient to making first encounters count is your ability to uncover something or someone of value that the person would welcome. It also involves having the resourcefulness to connect them to that someone or something.

For example, your encounter mentions they're having trouble with their back. Do you happen to know the best physical therapist or chiropractor in town? Or you learn they believe their eight-year-old daughter could develop into an amazing soccer player. Perhaps you have the resourcefulness to say: "Let me check with my wife to see if her friend is still doing private coaching, she is amazing!"

This type of interaction serves two purposes:

  • It tees up a seamless disengage from the conversation so you can continue to interact with other people at the event.
  • It provides a meaningful reason for you to follow-up and explore the potential for turning this first encounter into a client.

Bottom Line: Practice the skill of the disengage in order to lay the groundwork for a meaningful follow-up conversation.