We all strive to be able to hold a conversation, be engaging, leave an impression when networking. What if its as simple and talking with your 6 year old? Being an IT nerd that was raised by his grandmother in a traditional farm family household, we didn’t technically learn how to articulate value added propositions to high level executives ( to be far my 6 year old didn’t either, and I’m not entirely sure I know it currently.) So, need-less to say I wasn’t the most well spoken, charismatic person while attempting to hold a conversation. This is where my 6 year old comes in.
My 6 year old’s qualification for teaching me
We have something my wife and I try to do with our children while we sit down for dinner. We ask how their day was (I KNOW, CRAZY RIGHT?) My son normally comes back with the “I don’t know” or “nothing.” When we get this response (which is everyday) we say, “well, just think back to just 1 thing that you did that day and tell us ALL about that one thing.” Sometimes we have to help him along like “so, did you work on the smart board today? OH AWESOME, what did you do on it?” Then we would show him that he was able to explain something he did, then elaborate on it to be able to tell us a detailed thing about his day.
FYI, this picture to the left doesn’t exactly depict every mealtime at our house. I was actually helping a client put out a fire while eating and the kids thoughts they would play along with their devices
Time and time again, asking him about his day, digging into each part of his potential events that he can elaborate on I thought, Why don’t I use this in my business engagements. Asking questions, “digging” into potential conversation topics that 1. help me show interest in their life/business/etc and 2. helps me get to know them more, especially if they are a prospect. Seems simple, huh?
IT MAY SEEM SIMPLE, BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE DEAL WITH COMMUNICATION ISSUES
How I put it in practice
“So, Mr/Mrs. Office manager, what did you do in special today?”Though I did not say that, I did use my findings to talk with the grown-ups. As a career horrible communicator, this ah-ha moment really helped me “open up” when it comes to getting out there and networking.
Get out of your head
People are there to network, and generally they are nice people just trying to network just like you are. This means, shake off the nerves, maybe walk to the snack area and strike up a conversation with someone while you both are getting food. If they talk for a minute and say they have to get back to someone or something, That’s Fine! Not everybody will sit and talk to you for 30 minutes and give you $1million worth of business.
Start with the Basics
The classics are always a good idea unless there is something obvious going on, or just happened that would seem weird if you didn’t address it. IE. If your at an outdoor networking event and a Boeing CH-47 Chinook slowly flys by, hindering your ability to introduce yourself for 15 seconds, you may want to address that before jumping in with, Where do you work, what do you do there, how long have you been there?
Dig a little deeper if needed
Some times a conversation needs to be extended. At that point, I would attempt to dig a little more. Things like Do you have any kids? How are thing going at work? etc. Just keep an eye on the persons interest in the conversation. If they keep looking up and around randomly they are probably not feeling the conversation AND THAT IS FINE TOO not every conversation is going to click.
Moving on from a dying conversation
Some times there are conversations that you feel are not going anywhere, or you feel the other person is itching to get out. Like mentioned above, its ok. Not clicking with someone is not the end of the world. Just politely ask for their business card (IE. “hey can I have a card? I’m going to make a quick call, but would like to stay in touch.”) You should really attempt to always leave a conversation on a happy note, smiling and shaking their hand. Because lets face it, even though you do feel that you clicked during the conversation, you can still put them in a drip campaign and maybe you left a good enough impression for them to give your business a chance.