Networking outside

Dig Deep: How to have more meaningful business conversations

Last week I spent a few days of vacation with my cousins at the beach. (Nothing exotic, Narraganset, RI)

It was soul filling.

We laughed, cried, and ate homemade hummus. What can I say, we’re Middle Eastern.

We always have the best time. And not only because we grew up together, but because of the way we gather.

We can talk about anything, ask any questions and know deep down in our heart that we will not be judged.

Perhaps you have this kind of relationship in your personal life, too.

Narragansett RI

But, do you have this type of relationship in business?

Relationships that…

  • Allow you to show up as who you are and speak up about what’s important to you right now?
  • Won’t judge or criticize you for feeling or acting a certain way.
  • Make you feel 100% seen, heard and valued, no matter what?

Chances are, the answer to these questions is NO.

That, my friends, is what’s wrong with business meetings, networking events and conferences.

Unless we feel emotionally safe to be ourselves, talk about our work with excitement, and pause long enough to listen to someone else, these events will be blah, bland and basic. 

Not to mention awkward and anxiety inducing.

So what can we do short of networking with our cousins?

Allow me to share a recent business example:

My colleague Lauren and I met for lunch yesterday, first time we’ve met in person since January 2020. What a treat!

Anyway, Lauren and I have built a really strong relationships, online, over the last year. 


By talking openly and honestly about ourselves and our business experiences – the anxieties, celebrations, frustrations.

As a result we have become sounding boards to each other, offer insight and guidance when feeling stuck, and provide support on important projects.

Our conversations are soul filling. Even though they are business related.

At lunch, Lauren and I even talked about WHY this might be and we agreed: Most business conversations stay on the surface – weather, sports, “what do you do?”. And that can be exhausting for people. Rarely do conversations dig into anything meaningful or true to what’s going on right now.

Dare to Dig Deep…Even in Business

In my work and my conversations I dare to go below the surface. And I dare to take others along for the ride.

Which is why…

  • When I wrote about languishing in my last newsletter I received a ton of email responses with messages like, “yes, this resonates, thanks so much for sharing.”
  • People leave my events feeling more energized and uplifted then when they arrived.
  • Groups at one of my workshops or retreats feel more connected to each other and the purpose behind their work.

Look, you can tell me all you want that attention spans are low and limited, Zoom sucks, and meetings are boring and exhausting.

And I will call B.S. 

It doesn’t have to be that way.

  • Show up as who you are NOT who you think you should be. If you feel any apprehension, check in with that. Stop trying to people please – not everyone will like you anyway. And THAT IS OK.
  • Speak up and share what’s important to you. That’s how we connect with people on a deeper level. Have the courage to share yourself and your ideas and you give others permission to do the same. And if you’re on the receiving end, commit to listen with empathy & curiosity. Healthy debate is just that – healthy. That’s one way we learn and grow.
  • Reach out and stay in touch. Keep the connection and grow the relationship through regular outreach. A simple “Hey, I’ve been thinking of you” is enough to be remembered and keep conversations alive. And if you’re hosting or facilitating a group, lead with empathy & curiosity to ensure everyone feels seen & heard.

And if you want someone to talk to, call me. I have cousins who would love to eat hummus and hear your story.

Your turn to talk to me:

  • Do you have cousins you love spending time with?
  • Where’s your favorite beach destination? 
  • What’s your favorite way to make a genuine business connection?

Like what you read?

Become a Shed The Formality insider (it's free!) and get insights & inspiration twice-monthly, delivered straight to your inbox. Don't over think it. Sign up today!

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Need a speaker?

Create a meaningful and valuable experience when you hire Stacey to Host, MC or moderate a panel at your upcoming meeting or event.

Consider Sharing

About the blog

Humor, stories, and insights, delivered 2x per month, to perform without the pressure.

Topics include mental health, work, human connection, creativity and more.


Leave a Comment