How to start a good conversation with a stranger, like everything in life, requires a little bit of effort. In business and in social situations, “research and relevance” is the key.
To start a good conversation know something about who you are speaking with and what they would find interesting to talk about prior to starting the conversation. It will avoid awkwardness. Social media platforms like LinkedIn are very useful for some “inside” scoop on who you may be speaking with. Not only do you find out where they work, what they do, but everything from the university they attended to their favourite hobbies or interests. It opens up a new avenue for how to start a good conversation. You start from an informed position. Your aim is obviously not to behave like a stalker but someone who really is interested. Through an engaging conversation, you can quickly get a sense of what is alive in the other person. It may be their work, family, hobby or a new venture. The important thing is that both parties are given the opportunity to speak.
A good conversation is like a ping pong match. It must be two ways so that both sides feel empowered and enriched by the experience. In our personal and business lives, we are drawn to others based on common interests, chemistry, likeability, and other intangible qualities. This can all come across effortlessly in what we say.
The driving force in progressing a good conversation is unfamiliarity. The need to want to know more about this new person. Being born curious is a wonderful attribute and by asking lots of questions shows you really care about the other person and what they think. Therefore when asking a question it’s important to ask then… shut up and listen. As the late Stephen R. Covey says, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
So how can you ensure that your first words won’t be your last? Odile suggests these hot tips to start a good conversation:
- Be generous with your time and wisdom, and help others without any expectation of receiving something in return.
- Start a good conversation, not by trying to show the other person how smart you are. It’s really irritating when someone you’ve just spoken to keeps trying to show off how “intelligent” and insightful they are.
- You connect with people by finding things in common, understanding what issues they may be grappling with and sharing ideas.
- Cultivate your interests so you are interesting to others. Be interesting and interested!
- Be authentic and be yourself. With seven billion people in the world and only one of you… you truly are unique.
- Ensure you sprinkle words which display your honesty, discretion, reliability, and consistency. These are very attractive traits especially in the early stages of building a relationship through good conversation.
- Don’t let everything that enters your eye gate or ear gate come out of your mouth gate. Most people can’t stand babblers!
- Have a sense of fun.
- The greatest compliment you can give someone is your time and a friendly ear.
- Keeping the respect tank full has a lot to do with the way we speak to each other.
It’s important at the end of the good conversation to say, “Thank you for calling.” Let the other person know if you enjoyed the experience. This builds confidence within the relationship and creates good feelings which will spur on further communication. If you forget to thank them you can always drop them a line via email, text or social media. Try to keep the communication flowing. Make each other feel good!
About Odile Faludi, Starting Customer Conversations Specialist
Odile is a passionate freelance writer and a business development consultant. She is trained in "Crucial Conversations" through VitalSmarts. They have helped 300 of the Fortune 500 realise significant results using a proven method for driving rapid, sustainable, and measurable change in behaviours.
Odile runs workshops in Australia, teaching Business Development Managers, Start-up Entrepreneurs and Sales teams how to initiate good conversation. The aim is to widen their business net. It's the most mature approach on Cold Calling and covers lead generation tips, social media and smart calling ideas on dialogue. Request a course outline at email@example.com or check out here Workshop details and download your free eBook by registering on this site in the RED BOX on the side.
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Business Development Officer at Ray White Corporate SA
Six months ago I hated "cold-calling". I never got any positive responses, a miserable number of leads despite hundreds of calls, and to be honest, felt pretty miserable doing that work and it showed in my calls!
After seeing Odile, the transformation started almost overnight! Within a month of practising everything she has taught me, she has changed not only how I make calls, but how I think about those conversations before, during and after!
My "hit-rate" or lead generation has gone from a measly 10-20% success rate (on a very good day) to 90-95% (on an AVERAGE day!)
I can't wait to get along to her next session, and highly recommend anybody in any job, whether you cold-call, hold face to face meetings, or even only email, to get along to one of her sessions. You will pick up minimum 10 new tips / tricks / strategies to implement right away!