National Networking Week officially kicked off yesterday and will continue to run until Friday 8 August, connecting people all over Australia with networking events held right across the country.
In the spirit of this important management initiative, today’s blog deals with how to make a first impression that packs a punch with three simple conversation rules.
When you’re competing with 50 other people in a room and you’ve only got a couple of minutes to connect with a complete stranger, you need to be ready to wow. Somebody who understands this better than most is Scott Ginsberg, world renowned author, award-winning blogger and the 2010 AIM National Networking Week Ambassador.
Here are three valuable conversation tips from his book The Power of Approachability:
1. When someone asks “how are you?” – give them a real answer
It’s common courtesy to ask somebody how they are upon a first meeting, whichever way you decide to word it. The repetition of this common greeting is often met with a default “fine” or “good”. But imagine the impact you could make with a carefully considered answer.
Try using interesting words, say something memorable and just be honest – Scott describes these as ‘flavoured answers’. By responding with a more detailed answer unique to yourself or your situation, you can separate yourself from the crowd and potentially fuel further conversation.
2. Discover your common point of interest by asking open ended questions
Like attracts like – it’s a universal law and it’s very relevant to networking. One of the most effective ways to build rapport in a networking environment is to find a common point of interest.
Whether you started out in similar jobs, both enjoy fishing or follow the same sports, this common ground will break the ice and spark conversation.
To find your common point of interest, be sure to ask open ended questions, as anything that can be answered with a blunt “yes” or “no” could block conversation flow.
3. Remember – it’s all about how you make them feel
According to Scott, in order to make an unforgettable first impression, you must focus on how others feel about themselves. During conversation, keep asking yourself ‘how engaged is the other person?’ – the ultimate goal is to have them leave the conversation feeling like they’ve known you for years.
This can be accomplished by ensuring they feel comfortable, included, interesting and appreciated – the hierarchal needs of humans. If they forget your name, don’t embarrass them. If they are feeling nervous, lighten the atmosphere. If they haven’t gotten a word in, ask for their opinion.
Obviously, these are just three of the many ways you can strike up a memorable conversation with a stranger and ensure you leave a good impression. But these three tips definitely form a strong foundation to start with and will go a long way in ensuring you stand out from the crowd.
Scott Ginsberg is the author of 27 books, an award winning blogger, TEDx speaker and the producer of NametagTV. He’s delivered over 600 presentations worldwide and was inducted into Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. He wears a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.