I recently posted about proper ways to greet. Whether someone you are meeting for the first time or everyday greetings in your office. As a follow up, I also wanted to provide some thoughts on How best to Connect in a Conversation. Whether with someone you are meeting for the first time, or a follow up meeting, or a longtime business associate, it's important to not just greet properly, but also connect.
So here's your cheat sheet for connecting in a conversation.
1. Start with a proper greeting- We've talked about this before. Handshake, bow, hug, etc. Figure out what is appropriate and then stick to that.
2. Look them in the eye. It's amazing how many folks still can't do this. Recently posted more about this.
3. Listen more than you talk. Ask more questions than you give answers. Listening is an art.
4. Make at least one valuable connection for them. Might be that you commit to introducing them to a friend of yours, or you heard about a business opportunity they might be interested in, etc.
5. Create one simple action item. Could be a follow up call, another meeting, an email they need to send, an email you need to send, or a simple reminder to connect again soon.
6. Ask great questions. Here are a few:
What are you learning lately?
Who has had the greatest impact on you?
What gets you up in the morning and keeps you awake at night?
What do you love most about your family?
What do you love most about your job/profession?
What are you most excited about right now?
7. Look for opportunities to provide encouragement. I don't know anyone who doesn't like to be encouraged. Find places in the conversation where you can provide some "ego biscuits" (as my good friend Steve Graves always told me).
8. Give plenty of "conversation exit ramps." Always give opportunities in a conversation with someone new the ability to exit quickly. Options to jump out of the conversation and into another one. This is paramount in environments where there are lots of other folks- dinner parties, weddings, social gatherings.