12/12/2013 06:04 pm ET Updated Feb 11, 2014

Networking? The Art of Conversation

If I could come up with a better, less annoying word for networking, I would.
It would surely make me rich and famous.

Networking -- what a terrible word. I feel your pain.

And yet every move you make in your career is because of a network - a conversation- a connection.

A conversation serves as a catalyst.

A conversation is a spark.

A conversation takes place with another person with whom you have a mutual interest. It's easy when we aren't thinking about how someone can help us meet our goals. But creating that dialog with a specific goal can be a little intimidating.

So how do you discover a mutual interest? How do you begin?

Here are three tools to begin a conversation with a purpose.

1. Curious George: Be Curious: People love to talk about themselves, their interests, successes, their goals. Get to know the person. People generally like you more when you actually like them.

2. Santa Claus: Be Generous, Be Genuine: Share information that can improve the other person's life. Be genuine - no one wants to feel used.

3. Dancing with the Stars: Every person you meet has the potential to be someone who could introduce you to that next great opportunity. Play along. Listen to the music. Have fun. Treat each conversation as a chance to connect in a meaningful way -- whether it's for the moment or for years to come.