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Charlie Cook said it right: whether you are in the elevator or on the phone, the way you start the conversation will determine whether or not it will continue. So many times we face the uncomfortable situation of meeting with a recently established contact and we just don’t know what to say. In fact, opening a conversation requires a set of skills if you want to leave an everlasting impression that will make the other one eager to come to you every time he/she will meet you.
- Start with a joke/humor – By making humors, you show that you are open-minded, you have a positive attitude, that you do not feel depressed, and very important, you send the message that the person will feel great around you and will have fun. Yet, of course, because of the cultural differences, you might want to choose carefully what jokes to give. For having traveled and lived around lot of different cultures, I found out that what is funny for Africans might not be that funny for Europeans; and what is funny for Europeans might not be funny for Americans. Also, avoid any racial or other social jokes. Do not make fun of your new contact unless you feel like he won’t take it against you. Good jokes to get started are when you make fun of you.
- Give a sincere praise – People love to be flattered. People love it when you show respect to their self-esteem. People love it when you show that you care.
About two weeks ago, I was having diner with two friends of mine over in Baltimore, MD at a Greek restaurant. As we were waiting to be seated, I noticed the very expensive watch the restaurant owner was wearing and as soon as I got the opportunity, I told him how much I love the design and style of his watch and asked him where he got it from. He loved that attention and praise and during the whole 1 hour diner time we had with my friends, we had the best service and the best attention in return from the restaurant. As we were leaving, the restaurant owner came for special thanks and asked for what we do for leaving. There was a new connection starting.
- Make a considerable remark/meaningful greetings – So many times we come to greet people by just pressing on the play button of our recorded mindset that do not reflect how we actually are or feel at the moment. People will ask you: “HOW ARE YOU?” and you’ll go: “FINE THANKS! ” even if you feel horrible. Making a considerable remark means observing the person and giving the person a feedback of how he reflects to feel like: “you look like you are going to a company meeting”, “You look like you just got a job promotion”. That kind of greeting will definitely invite or push the person to tell what is really going on at the moment: “Oh yeah! I have so much going on right now!”, “Oh it’s not work related, it’s my wife who made a wonderful surprise.”
- Do the happy face – Don’t walk with a pity face on you and expect to have people willing to talk with you, be smiling. Smile and enthusiasm opens doors and are contagious. People love that and love to be surrounded of that kind of people.
- Have a respectable body language and position – Whether you are making a joke, giving a meaningful greeting or a praise, the way you position yourself, wherever you are, and your body language, tell a lot about how educated you are and therefore can help the person to engaged in a conversation with you.
Now let’s talk a bout the topics to talk about with anyone. When your relationship to someone is not yet secured and you can’t afford just talking about everything by fear of hurting the person or by fear of saying something that will be taken against you, you have to watch out about what topics to pick up when starting a conversation and breaking the ice. This selection of topics I am getting ready to give you are petty helpful for situations where you are invited to a dinner or any other social event and you know no one or barely know them. Also, when you invite someone at your place or at a diner but you have no strong relationship with the person.
WARNING!!!! This is not supposed to be an interview. So as you surf and pick up the topics, make sure it looks more like a conversation that all the parties enjoy having and that give the opportunity to everyone to share his own story.
Topics on starting a conversation and establish report with any newly established contact:
- Are you from here originally? / How long have you been working for that company? – As you are establishing report with someone, you want to make sure you first show genuine interest to the person by getting to know where the person comes from. In general, people would start telling you everything about the places the lived in before moving where they live now.
- What social activity interest you the most? – The point behind this question is to see what you have in common with the person. The more you have in common, the stronger will be your relationships to the person, and the more the two of you will be willing to do things together.
- Do you play any sport? / Do you you follow up with sport? Which team you go for? – Men are usually the best gender to ask that kind of question to.
- Where is the best place to go and eat here? / What are the different types of foods you ever tried?
- Did you watch that movie???
- Where is the best place you ever had to visit?
- If you feel like the connection on the right track you can go the extra-mile and start topics such as who is the person who influenced you the most, or what is that you like about your job, or what would be your dream job.
Again, just like Charlie Cook said: whether you are in the elevator or on the phone, at the office or at a party, the way you start the conversation will determine whether or not it will continue. A well started conversation can open doors to a lifelong relationship.
Folks, people is everything. The people you are connected to, the organizations and meetings you attend, all that matters when you have a burning desire to grow your network. In this world of challenge, competition, employment crisis, and unsecured job, it’s more than ever important for everyone, individuals and companies, to work on developing trustful and solid connections.
As a professional relationship development expert, part of my job is to share with you places of influences that can help you find the right people and right organizations to connect with. On this post, I reveal a lis of 7 professions anyone, individuals and organizations, would gain in being connected with. That is the top notch professions network seeker want t be linked to.
- The Headhunters:
These are Recruiters, Job-placement counselors, Search executives. These are the people who make their living in connecting people. Days and nights, they work at connecting the right people to the right companies. That means that, according to the industry th headhunter is working in, his phonebook will be loaded of people you might be interested in if it’s your industry of interest.
My recommendation to you is to open and keep a personal file of any headhunter you know: who they are, what industry they are specialized in, what kind of people they are looking for, where are they located. If you find a way to help them in their job, they will be more than welcome to give you the connection you are looking for in return.
- The Fundraisers:
You remember back in school time when you had to go out on week-ends to walk around the neighborhood trying to sell chocolate bars to raise money for your basketball team? Well, professional fundraisers do the same but not only on week-ends or in the neighborhood; they do it everyday and usually solicit influential people. If the salesperson follows the right client in need for his product, the fundraiser, however, simply follows the money. For fundraisers, it doesn’t matter what industry you work on, what you, who you are, what they want is your money. So they well aware and informed of who is influential, and who has the money. If you have a good friend who is fundraiser, you have an open door to a whole new world of contacts and opportunities.
- The Lobbyists:
Lobbyists are impressive networkers. Those self-confident and persuasive people always know what;s going on. The way they work is by hosting cocktails parties and dinner get-togethers to be able to interact with politicians and their opponents in a casual and relax atmosphere. If you can hold en event for them, volunteer your services, refer other volunteer to their case, introduce them to potential clients, they will be for you to many more influential contacts.
- The Restaurateurs:
When I was working with the Southwestern company, I used to be sent around the US the prospect the market and offer the products to be sold. In other words, I could have been in Los Angeles,CA this year and next year be sent to Portland,OR. My strategy whenever I was coming to a new state was first to ask, right at the airport, where was the best and most popular place to go and have a breakfast in the city I would work in. Then I’d take my rental car and drive to that place, introduce myself to the restaurant owner or manager, and I would tell him what I was going to do here and for how long, that I was going to come and breakfast at his restaurant every day, that he’s been recommended to me as the place to go for the best breakfast, and if he hear of anyone in need of my product then he shouldn’t hesitate to refer me.
Local restaurant owners are the deal. They know what’s going on, they know who is who and who does what, and they know where to go for what you need. They are usually likable, people love them, tell them about their lives, and appreciate them. They can be a great source of info and their restaurant a tremendous pace of network if you go there in a regular basis.
- The Journalists:
Who wouldn’t like to know a journalist? Thanks to those media professionals, the right exposure can make a company double its sales, or turn a nobody into a somebody. The good thing is that they are constantly looking for a good story. However, apy attention to those guys. As much as they can put you on the top, they can be also the reason behind your decline.
- The Public Relations people:
The PR people and media can hate each other but at the end of the day, their common necessity brings them together. PR people needs media to cover their client and protect the image of their company, and medias need stories to write on.
How can be PR helpful? They can introduce you to the media or journalist that they consider more helpful than headache.
- The Politicians:
Politicians are unstoppable networkers. Constantly working on their image to get people vote, they would add to their team and help anyone whose work aims to help them to be more popular. By helping politicians, you gain a ticket to have a seat in their inner circle. Ounce in their inner-circle, you’ll be surrounded of tremendous connections.
How to get in touch with Politicians? Join your local Chamber of Commerce. In every locality, there are lot of young politicians eager to clim the political ladder. And in each chamber of commerce, you will find businesspeople, local executives, and entrepreneurs. Join there, volunteer your service, positively expose yourself, and people will want you in their team.
As you already know and as I say all the time, relationship matters and one thing to constantly do in relationship is to connect. Well, on this post, you’ve learned how to connect with the right connectors that will help you expand your circle.
When I decided to enter the niche of Relationships Coaching, my main goal was to just in lighting up individuals and corporates on the way they handle their business relationships. However, the more I dug into the subject and learned and trained myself through books and practice, the more it comes clear that Relationship Coaching is nothing else but a help I provide to people (business people, corporates, individuals in general) for them to move from the state of “I don’t need this person, I can do all by myself” to the astonishing state of “please, tell me how I can help you, it will be an honor to serve of or to meet up with you again“.
I am actually developing a product that will be presented at my seminars, speaking engagements, and consulting. This products reveals the main axes of what relationship is really made and at the heart of it I say relationship is all about giving and receiving. when I finished school and was thinking whether to go back and work for Southwestern or not, all my actions and connections were driven by the “what can I get from you”, I was out there pretty much just for myself. That’s exactly what the networking jerk really is. It’s the image that many people have when they hear the word “networking.” Today, a I apply those techniques I am about to show you, I better reconnect with people I once neglected by stupidity and the true friendship presence I give them today comes back to me one way or the other.
Here are few techniques for you to stop being or ne to never become a networking dork:
- Be Who You Are – In this age where information has become pretty accessible to all, openness has also become a pretty valuable and much-sought-after attribute. People feel more comfortable at responding with trust when they know you’re dealing straight with them. Same thing fo your emotions, don’t hide them especially if they are good. If you see someone (friend, business partner, potential client, boss) and it feels your heart of joy, then show it. Do it like a dog who sees his master coming from far a distance and starts looking at him, jumping around, and moving his tails, getting ready to jump on him and give licks as soon as the beloved master will be near. How flattering is that? Can you imagine the master turn his back on that loving dog?
- Treat People With Respect – In business, treating people with respect is a MUST. No one will give you his business if you do not treat him the way you’d like to be treated assuming you have the best product in the market.
- Stay Away From Gossip – Gossip do not pay off. As relationship strategist, I can’t suggest anyone to rely on the currency of gossip. All you will gain from it is people realizing that you are nothing but a jerk and that you’re not worthy to be trusted. It won’t do you any good.
- Think About What You Can Bring On The Table – From all the networking opportunity places, I believe social and non-formal places are the bet to generate great relationship connections. Places like at a friend’s dinner or party, at charity event, at an auction, at a company social event, at a group or association social event. The joker here is that you should not come to those party empty-handed. Wherever you go, whenever you meet up with someone, you should always be asking yourself you can I impact in his life, what value can I add for his take away. And this can be just about anything. Do not just the quality, just give.
- Stop Being too Efficient – We generally tend to believe that relationship is more about numbers. That’s not totally true. Reaching out to other s is not a numbers game, the goal when connecting is to make genuine connections with people you can count on. With tat said, the quality of each and every of your connection is as important as the number of your connections. The challenge is to find a way to manage the two variables and that is one of the key I teach at my seminars and speaking engagements and help to do when consulting.
Robert Schuller said that spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation. You want to generate more business in this tough economies using your network, then stop being a networking dork or never become one. If you need help, please feel free contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to know my latest tool of professional networking. If you need an expert in other fields that relationship, please visit Act2be.com, we will connect you to experts who will help you reach your goals easier and faster.
I strongly believe more than ever before, today, RELATIONSHIP MATTERS. If you have a question, a comment, please comment.