Most people have been in this situation: At a social or business function and you end surrounded by people you have never met before. You may become uncomfortable with the circumstances because you don’t know how to start or carry on a conversation.
Successful people find themselves in these situations because they stretch themselves and put themselves in new places. That’s why their businesses grow; by meeting new people. If you want to be successful, the one thing you have to get down is knowing how to talk to anybody, anytime. The good news? It is easier than you think!
There are two things for you NOT to do:
- Do NOT get nervous and excuse yourself. Leaving is missing an opportunity to make a new best friend or a close business associate. So Stick Around!
- Do NOT start talking about yourself. Yes, you want to introduce yourself, but don’t launch into a half-hour speech about your deeds. Talking about yourself is not productive, and may even bore your listeners!
That second point is crucial. You can’t be a selfish, arrogant person and be successful. At least not to have actual well-rounded success, rather than just collecting a bunch of money.
What you want to do is talk about the person you just met. Remember you don’t wish to talk about yourself – you want to talk about them! The key is to ask questions. There are a few people you just will not be able to talk to; but for the most part, if you continue asking questions, you will be able to talk to anybody, anytime.
There are three parts to this process:
- Go where the connections lead you.
You want to try to find common ground. What makes people afraid to talk to others is that they think they won’t have anything in common. However, if you ask questions for a minute or two, you can always find common ground. The worst that could happen is that you spend a couple minutes asking questions, only to find that you don’t have much in common.
I’m going to do mock conversation to illustrate this process.
Please keep in mind the kinds of questions I would ask when I find a common ground, and then how I would move the conversation in that direction.
“Hi, I’m William Deihl. What is your name?”
“Well, Jon, what do you do for a living?”
“I sell insurance.” (Possible Common ground here. Every person has insurance)
“Oh yeah? What kind of insurance?”
“I insure Oil rigs in the Atlantic ocean.” (Oops. Not common ground)
“Wow. That’s must be interesting. Are you married, Jon? Do you have kids?” (If yes, maybe Jon can show some pictures)
“No, actually, I’m single.” (It’s still not looking good)
“So, who do you know here?”
“Well, nobody. I am the brother of the host’s bookkeeper. I’m in town for a week, and my brother had to make an appearance.” (Wrong direction here)
“So where are you from?”
“Chicago.” (Bingo, there it is. The common ground! Now let’s go in that direction)
“Really? My dad and mom were from Chicago. Even though I didn’t live there, my mom and dad used to take me back to visit my relatives when I was growing up. It sure was a lot of fun. Did you live in the City, or the Suburbs?”
“I grew up in the Suburbs.”
“That’s where my relatives lived!
Now just start asking questions about what they did growing up, how they liked it etc…
If you get skilled enough at asking questions of others, you will certainly find common ground about which to talk. Having things in common with someone is the foundation of all long and mutually beneficial relationship. It’s one of the foundations of success!
I have met a lot of new people over the years, and this is what I do. I am no better communicator than anybody else. It is just a proven way of getting a relationship off the ground with someone you have just met.
- Go where the connections lead you.