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Do you ever wonder “what to say” when you head off to a networking event or a client meeting? Do you think it’s easier to write an email rather than pick up the phone and have a real conversation? Well you’re not alone. When we’re busy working at our computers all day, generally alone, it’s easy to lose the knack of easy conversation. Let’s face it, the cat really isn’t that interested in what you have to say. Take a few moments to read a few tips to get talking again.
As a fan of the TV show The West Wing; I watched with interest and amusement the “grooming” of the character Toby Ziegler from Communications Director to White House Press Secretary. In addressing the media his assistant constantly reminded him to use the communication skills of wooing a woman. To be “witty and seductive.”
In winning over our clients or the media perhaps we don’t need to go that far but is does pay to put some “personality” into your customer communication.
For many of us we’re busy constantly setting up appointments, meeting new clients, networking and making connections with a number of new people. We are engaged with our personal and professional PR – communicating who we are, what we do and how we make a difference. Therefore we need to ensure each meeting or contact counts.
Effective communication is important when building relationships with clients, customers and the media. A stimulating conversation or well-told story may be the most interesting part of a meeting, presentation or media interview. Even witty small talk with a potential client can evolve into a new business deal or project. Here is a few conversation pointers to keep in mind when meeting or networking.
1. A good business introduction includes your first and last name and the name of your company.
2. Always introduce yourself to those sitting next to you at a business dinner. If possible, meet everyone at your table before you sit down. Sit next to someone you don’t know rather than someone you do know.
3. When introducing your guest or another person at a function, mention both first and last names and perhaps an interesting item of information about that person.
4. Before going to an event, business or social, be prepared to discuss items of current interest including books, films, television shows, or current events.
5. You can find your next conversation starter by reading at least one daily newspaper, weekly news magazine, or watching a morning news show.
6. Take the time to get to know others first. People don’t care about you and what you do until they know you care about them. Build relationships and trust first.
7. Beware of being a pushy promoter. We’re often so passionate and excited about our business or latest project that we talk too much and over sell ourselves.
8. Listen closely and think before you speak. Don’t interrupt, let the other person finish their thought before you give your opinion. Learn to do 80 percent of the listening and just 20 percent of the talking.
9. Listen attentively, smile and make good eye contact.
10. Practice the five words that help create and maintain small talk conversation Who, What, When, Where and Why to form open-ended questions.