WHAT DO I SAY AFTER I SAY HELLO?
by ROBYN HENDERSON
Mastering the art of conversation can help you to become a more effective networker. Many people have an absolute fear of talking to strangers and this fear is generally unfounded. When some people arrive at a networking function, they may feel a little nervous because they don’t know many people attending. For some its as if they leave their personality at the venue doorstep. They are unable to start or finish conversations and usually have a miserable time. They leave vowing to never return and avoid those networking events at all costs.
Think about some of the better communicators in your networks, what makes them different? Is it that they:
- listen to your answer
- allow you to finish your response without interrupting
- make eye contact
- genuinely act as if they do care about your answer
- somehow make you feel special
- can often remember snippets of previous conversations you may have had
The one thing that each of these great communicators do, is they make a heart to heart connection with you. This is not in a romantic sense, rather they focus on you and the conversation you are having together. Whether there are 1 or 5 people in the group, they are focussed on the general conversation. They are not distracted they are “in the moment” or “in the now”. When we speak from our heads, we often become flustered and nervous, stumbling over words. We are so worried about what we are going to say next, or what that word means, or am I wearing the right clothes, etc. . etc. . All this head stuff happening and anyone having a conversation with us, just thinks we are uninterested in their answers and distracted.
When we make that heart to heart connection, we listen actively to the conversation. We don’t have to worry about what we are going to say next, because when we are listening, we receive lots of cues for responses or more questions.
Effective networkers have a belief system that every single person that they meet is incredibly interesting and has much to contribute to any conversation. They may have a couple of open ended questions prepared, e.g.
- What was the highlight of your weekend/day/holiday?
- What tips would you give someone, who has never attended one of these events before?
- Whats your opinion of . . . ..
- Whats your favourite. . . . .. restaurant, movie, sport
- Your …… looks great, where did you buy your . . .. , (jacket, tie, shoes, etc.)
Once the conversation starts, it generally flows, when you focus on that heart to heart connection. The key to making the connection is basically you are treating people the way you would like to be treated. If all of this conversation making still sounds a little bit daunting, take heart. Every day aim to have a quality heart to heart connection, even for only 60 seconds with someone who crosses your path. Maybe it will be the newsagent, the garage attendant or bank teller basically any stranger you come into contact with. Ask a general question and listen to their answer with your heart, not your head. See how easily the conversation flows. Trust me, with a little practice, you will start to see yourself as the interesting person that other people see you as.