I know… people wear you out. You avoid prolonged contact at chatty parties and go home early to recharge. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It’s just your preference.
Then again, exercise also wears you out. Who wants to experience pain if they can avoid it? However, at some point you realize exercise is good for you. You get stronger and it starts to get easier.
Maybe learning how to hold a conversation is also good for you. Maybe it’s worth it.
I’m developing a program to help anyone hold conversations that connect. I hope you would agree that being able to work a room is good for your business and your career. The classic cocktail party has changed a bit with the obstacle of “head in phone” syndrome, but I love the challenge of being able to start and hold a conversation with anyone.
Perhaps you can gamify your conversational networking too. Set a goal of connecting with at least ten new people at the next event you attend.
Here are some starter questions that will help you:
- So… what do you think of the event?
- What is your role in your organization?
- What have you learned that’s really new today?
- I’m trying to figure something out and would appreciate your opinion on it.
Notice that none of these starters include you diving into what you do. Wait for them to ask. Set a goal to listen for at least a minute without interrupting, and the first thing you say is a response to something THEY said. If you really listen, your follow-ups should come easily.
Here are some possible follow-ups to the four questions above:
- Hmm, why is that?
- What’s the best part of it for you?
- How do you think it’s going to affect your business?
- Thanks, others seem to agree with you. So how would you approach ______?
Holding a conversation is about asking and listening. You don’t have to be funny, or tell long stories or be eloquent on all the issues. It’s easier to connect when you get others talking first and then react to what they say.
Having more people know what you do could help your career, right? The most interesting person in the room is often the one who shows interest in everyone else.
Share your favorite conversation starters in the comments below!