Has this ever happened to you before?
You walk into a party/meeting… you see a couple of people. None of which you’ve ever met before.
You’ve two choices. Strike up a conversation. Or stand at a corner and shroud into oblivion.
Then again, I guess you might very well choose to seek out the person who invited you over first, then proceed with one of the two choices.
Then that’s where it happened. The questions start coming in:
How are you going to start? What are you going to say? And how are you going to keep the conversation going?
Initiating conversations, and keeping them going are probably some of the biggest challenges that people face when it comes to meeting new people. And one of the key concerns that most people have when it comes to striking conversations is maintaining the initiating and maintaining a high level of interest throughout the conversation. That, and attempting to leave a positive and deep impression on the new friends you meet.
How exactly do we strike up conversations that intrigue, interest and leave a deep impression on on the people we just meet?
1. Throwing the Hook
We’ve all been to meetings and introduced ourselves as Ted, the Accountant, oGrace-I-sell-Insurance or Tom the industrial-astro-neurologist (whatever that means!)
The problem with “normal” or the conventional introductions at meetings are… well… normal. They don’t help you standout. Sure, it’s safe. But what’s the point? You don’t get noticed… and it gets you nowhere!
So what can you do to help you stand out?
Well, here’s a technique which I’ve observed some of the most successful trainers, entertainers and Casanovas (*wink*) use. Instead throwing your new friends what you do, throw them a description of what you do. Better still, come up with a term or description that best describes what you do.
For example, instead of sharing with your new contacts that you’re Ted, the Accountant, use the Description Method, that you are Ted, and that you “help businesses and entrepreneurs improve their efficiency and effectiveness of their operations by helping them keep track of their funds and stretch every dollar possible”.
Yep, that’s quite a mouthful. Or if you’re a teacher/trainer, you could share that you’re a “Transformer”.
Naturally, your contacts are going to think you’re going to change into some Autobot or Decepticon or something. But there’s where the fun begins, you’ve caught their undivided attention, leaving you to reinforce the interest level using the Description Method mentioned earlier.
2. Throwing the Bait
So now you’ve got your listeners intrigued and you’ve made an impression on them. But that’s just you. Remember, as I’ve shared in my earlier post It’s All About You, people are fundamentally, forever interested in their interests (well… aren’t you), and it’s always easier to get them to talk about what they like than what WE like.
So here’s the bait to get them even more interested in you… show interest in them! And there’s a sleek way to do it!
Instead of asking your new friends “What do you do” or “Where do you come from”, ask them this:
“So, what do you normally do during your free time?”
Ah huh! Now with that, a series of responses can come about. Not only can you avoid having your friends stumble and present that “oh-so-common” type of introduction, you’re leading them directly to something that they’re keenly interested about straight away! And the best thing is, if they’re truly passionate about their work, they might even share with you what they do for a living!
How’s that for being sneaky? (*winks*)
3. Reeling it In
Now that you’ve got everything started. You’ve initiated and established initial interest. The next big question is: How do you keep it going?
Simple, build on their responses! This is a strategy I noticed many competent communicators use when it comes to meeting new people. It involves active listening and picking out keywords of interest/events that serve as openings that can lead you through the conversation.
Say, your friend mentions that she enjoys watching the movies. You may zoom in on the subject of “movies” and take the conversation into a deeper level. Of course, you mightn’t/wouldn’t know what your friend might say. But with some careful “maneuvering”, you (guys/girls) might just get a date! Here is an example:
Intention: Get a date
Movies –> Genre/specific movie watched –> movies watched recently –> upcoming movies –> movie reviews –> “how about catching it together?”
One of the best ways you can build on your friends’ responses simply requires you to “repeat and with minimal response”. Let me give you another example:
You’ve just finished a long day at work and you’re on your way home when you met an old friend on the bus/train etc. He starts talking, but you really want to rest.
What do you do?
Well, here’s what you do:
1. Dig for a topic of his/her interest
2. Listen for key terms of particular interest
3. Build on it with questions
You: So what have you been doing during your free time?
[Remember point 2? Use it to find the key area of interest for the time being]
Him: Free time? I hardly got any now with Cindy (his daughter, maybe) taking up most of my time?
You: Cindy? How is she?
Him: Yea… we’re preparing her for school now…
Him: Yeap. School. It’s really hard to find a good one this days. It’s really driving me mad!
You: Driving you mad finding a good one?…
Notice how your every response ends with a question? Better still, every response you give requires less than 10 words per sentence? (*winks*)
Talk about effortless reeling in the line! With some careful maneuvering and practice of the three tools above, you’ll never leave a conversation silent again! You’ll be come the most interesting conversationalist there is around at a party/meeting, and you can be sure that everyone will love you so much that they’ll hesitate to let you go!
Of course, that will beg the next question, how exactly can you leave the conversation while you’re still winning and scoring points with your new found friends! Simple! But that’s another question for another day! *winks*
Stay tuned for more!