You might be extremely competent in your role, but the thought of starting up conversation with strangers sends you into a cold sweat.
Perhaps you are relatively new into management and don’t feel confident in your ability to hold a conversation with senior people.
Perhaps your experiences in the world have been limited and you are challenged with having things to talk about with all these strangers.
You might naturally be a little (or a lot) introverted and “putting yourself out there” is tough.
“The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you can talk a lot. The mark is that you can get others to talk a lot. Thus, good schmoozer’s are good listeners, not good talkers.” Guy Kawasaki
10 Tips for Getting the Attention of Others:
- Most people are feeling the same as you, so get over it.
- Most people are most comfortable talking about themselves, so you can use this.
- You don’t need to be a genius to be interesting to people, just able to carry a conversation the same you would with someone you know.
- People like to talk to people that look inviting … so smile. Nobody wants to talk to the guy who looks like a grouch standing in the corner.
- Go to networking events prepared with some questions to ask people. Try not to be a cliché … “So how you doing?” might work for you, but most likely will backfire.
- What do you think of this event/venue/speaker etc?
- Are you with one of the sponsors/exhibitors/company X etc?
- Are you local?
- Are you with a group?
- How often do you go to these things?
- There are a million questions/starters that you can use to get a conversation going.
- Get people talking about themselves. Once you start a conversation it gets easier. Ask about their job, their family, their school, their company, their friends, their interests all depending upon where the conversation goes.
- You do not need to be an expert about everything going on in the world but you should know what is going on in the world. Get in the habit of keeping up with the news, locally, nationally and globally.
- Try to give rather than seeking to take. What can you do for others? Can you share information? Can you make an introduction? Can you offer advice in your field? If you go with that attitude them people will be far more open than if your sole purpose is to get something from them.
- Do NOT seek out the people you know and hang out with them … because it is comfortable.
- If you are sincere, prepared enough and willing to get outside your comfort zone then you will always do well.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Dale Carnegie
Like everything worth doing it takes a little effort, a little faith and a little courage. Go for it!
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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