AZ Asks: Abbey Donnelly to tell us how Networking Works.



AZ Asks:  Abbey Donnelly to tell us how Networking Works.

Abby Donnelly is a partner and Executive Coach with Training & Development Solutions (TDS), a Sandler Training® franchise servicing the Triad. They are experts at improving sales and leadership performance. Abby has worked with hundreds of clients ranging from Fortune 500 to boutique professional firms. Her greatest strength is as a Trusted Advisor to senior leaders at small and medium-sized companies. She brings a keen intuitive ability to listen and understand the complex challenges facing leaders today, and the capability to provide fresh perspective, and a path for continual improvement. Abby’s clients gain greater self-awareness and a better understanding of how to influence the organizational dynamics, resulting in accelerated professional and business success.
Abby is the author of Networking Works!, a user-friendly workbook for building an ongoing stream of qualified referrals. Abby is a graduate of SUNY Albany and University of Florida with a Master of Statistics. She has been featured in the Triad Business Journal and is a renowned Triad area speaker on improving performance. She was recently recognized as a speaker for Vistage International, providing her expertise to help CEO’s thrive. Abby has served in leadership roles in Rotary, Leadership Greensboro and continues to support those and other non-profits in the region. Abby created and led two Sandler Training Fundraisers, raising over $110,000 to eradicate polio. The event was endorsed by Bill Gates, Sr. and recognized with a Rotary International 4 Avenues of Service Award.  She can be reached at

I know networking is important and I should be doing more of it, but I don’t like making small talk! What am I doing wrong?

Most people think networking is about making conversation or selling your services. Really, networking is about building relationships for mutual gain. The most effective way to network is to be interested in the people you meet. One of the most powerful things you can do to build a relationship is to learn about and build a deeper understanding of someone else. When someone shows interest in us, we feel heard and understood, and the relationship gets stronger.

So how do I do that? I don’t want to appear nosy, or intrude!

I have a set of basic questions I like to use that fit most any situation and get the conversation started in a more meaningful way than traditional small talk, like commenting on the weather. If I am at a hosted event, I’ll ask, ‘What brought you here tonight?’ or ‘How do you know the host?’. That gives me a better understanding of how they fit in the event mix. If it’s a business event, I might ask, ‘What kind of business are you in?’ followed by ‘How is your business doing in this economy?’ Most people are happy to answer those questions and then we’re off and running.

Ok, I did that. It worked. I had a great conversation, but then I couldn’t get away! I didn’t want to be rude, but I didn’t want to talk to the same person all night long!

This is a very common challenge! The interesting thing is that they don’t want to talk to you all night long either…so how do you get away? There are several very professional ways you can extricate yourself from the conversation. I usually start with,  ‘It was so nice to meet you! I enjoyed our conversation.’ Then you can either say, ‘Please excuse me, I see a few other people I want to try to catch this evening.’  OR ‘If you will excuse me, I am going to go find a …restroom, refill, food, etc….’ OR you can act as host and tell them you want to introduce them to someone they should know. Then you lead them over, make the introduction and excuse yourself from the conversation or begin talking with those you just joined.

Want to learn more? Join us for a 5 week series on building your professional network called, Networking Works!, a 13 step process for building an ongoing stream of qualified referrals. Click the logo for more information. 

Abby Donnelly, Partner with Sandler Training™ in Greensboro, is the internationally recognized author of the Networking Works! Book and training curriculum, offered exclusively through Sandler Training™.

Networking Works! My new book and training program is available– exclusively through Sandler Training™.

If you think training your people and having them leave is expensive, try not training them and having them stay.

You can reach Abby Donnelly,CEO Coach at (336) 884-1348

 Abby Donnelly is not affiliated with Zuraw Financial Advisors, LLC.


AZ Asks

About Ann Zuraw

Ann Zuraw, the voice behind "Chicks, Chat and Change", is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®), and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™). If you have comments on this post contact Ann Zuraw

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