people talking at a party Weall can benefit from a few reminders about socializing, whetherit's for business or for fun. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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You are good at making small talk.  You know how towork a room and get people talking.  But every so often,something happens – the mood changes and you wonder “Whatdid I do wrong?”  Here are eight mistakes to avoid insocial situations.

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1.  Moving too quickly.  Youmention you are an insurance professional.  From theirreaction, you assume they are fascinated.  You starttalking about business.  You ask questions about theinsurance they carry and who is their agent.  They startto back away.

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Why:  You are being pushy. It makes people uncomfortable.  Of course, you would neverdo that.

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2.  Cozying up to people. You stand very close.  You put your arm around the otherguy's shoulder.  You are a back slapper.

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Why:  In Western cultures, personalspace extends about 18 to 36 inches.  Put another way, ifyou are standing closer than 18 inches, people start to feeluncomfortable.  Touching raises the uncomfortable factorto a much higher level.

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3.  Addressing needs before they arerevealed.  You meet an 80-year-old businessowner.  They mention their children are both doctors onthe coast.  You immediately bring up succession planning,because it must be a big concern for them.  You suggestlunch on Tuesday.

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Why:  People need to share issues intheir own time.  When you make assumptions, you comeacross as being pushy.  As a bank president told me: “Theguy wanted to have lunch to address my needs.  How can headdress my needs if I haven't told him what they are?

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4.  No eye contact.  You'veknown about this one for years.  It suggestsdishonesty.  The other extreme, locking eyes to determinewho will look away first isn't the answer either.

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Why:  Although it might just be theother person is shy, avoiding eye contact is considered a redflag.  Something is wrong.

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5. Distracted conversation.  This is aclose cousin of no eye contact.  You are talking withsomeone, yet looking over their shoulder.  It implies youaren't giving them your full attention or worse, you are looking tosee if someone more important has entered the room.

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Why:  The message is “I'm just killingtime talking with you.”

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6. Being self-involved.  Have you everseen those people who love talking about themselves?  Theyname drop.  They tell you about their big house, expensivecar and incredibly intelligent children.  It's all aboutthem.

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Why:  Talking to a self-centeredperson is boring.  You can't get a word in.

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7.  Bad personalhabits.  You have little quirks youthink no one notices.  Maybe it's bad breath. They notice.  From another perspective, if you look likeyou slept in your clothing, it implies you don't take pride in yourpersonal appearance.

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Why:  Because you don't make aneffort, it implies you don't belong in this group.

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8. Poor table manners.  You've heardthe expression “Know how to behave in polite society.”  Itmeans you shouldn't wolf down your food, hold your knife and forklike gardening tools or return from the buffet with food piled sohigh, it's falling off.

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Why:  People with money were often“raised right” by their parents.  Regardless of yourfinancial situation, if you don't have manners, it implies “youweren't taught.”  It creates distance.

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It's highly unlikely you would make any of thesemistakes.  Still, sometimes we need a gentle reminder.

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Bryce Sanders is president of PerceptiveBusiness Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition trainingfor the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” can be foundon Amazon.

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READ MORE:

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For your next prospecting meeting, forget thebinder

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10 commandments of prospecting for insuranceagents

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5 steps to holiday prospecting

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Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders, president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc., has provided training for the financial services industry on high-net-worth client acquisition since 2001. He trains financial professionals on how to identify prospects within the wealthiest 2%-5% of their market, where to meet and socialize with them, how to talk with wealthy people and develop personal relationships, and how to transform wealthy friends into clients. Bryce spent 14 years with a major financial services firm as a successful financial advisor, two years as a district sales manager and four years as a home office manager. He developed personal relationships within the HNW community through his past involvement as a Trustee of the James A. Michener Art Museum, Board of Associates for the Bucks County Chapter of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Board of Trustees for Stevens Institute of Technology and as a church lector. Bryce has been published in American City Business Journals, Barrons, InsuranceNewsNet, BenefitsPro, The Register, MDRT Round the Table, MDRT Blog, accountingweb.com, Advisorpedia and Horsesmouth.com. In Canada, his articles have appeared in Wealth Professional. He is the author of the book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor.”