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 it's 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 then 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 your previous conversations
The one thing that each of these great communicators does, is make a
heart to heart connection with you. This is not in a romantic sense,
rather it is a focus on you and the conversation you are having together.
Whether there are 1 or 5 people in the group, they are focused 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. With all this head stuff happening,
anyone having a conversation with us may think we are uninterested in
their answers and distracted by other things.
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
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.
Here are some examples:
- "What was the highlight of your weekend / day?"
- "What tips would you give someone like me, who has never
attended an event like this before?"
- "What's your opinion about …?"
- "What's your favourite restaurant / movie / sport?"
- "Your (jacket) looks great, is that a local find or did you get
Once the conversation starts it generally flows, if you focus on that
heart to heart connection. The key to making the connection is basically
ensuring that you treat 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.
About the author: Robyn Henderson is an author,
publisher and international business educator. She travels throughout Australia,
New Zealand and Asia showing companies how to double their customer base through
effective networking. Her latest book is HOW TO MASTER NETWORKING. For more
information visit her website at www.networkingtowin.com.au
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