HAVE you ever been to a business event where you were talking with other people only to find they were not really paying attention to you?
Perhaps they were looking over your shoulder to see who else was in the room and trying to figure out whom to talk to next.
Or maybe they were idly checking their phone while talking to you or perhaps, worst of all, they were making side comments to another person in your group.
Whatever they were doing, they left you with a negative impression. But stop for a moment and ask — could it be that you were dominating the conversation?
If you are serious about building relationships quickly with people, you must pay careful attention to your conversation skills.
Listening intently is a good way to deepen a relationship quickly.
In fact, I would suggest that you listen more and speak less. No great relationship was ever created by one person proving to another how much he knows!
So step back from your urge to impress for a moment and consider these three strategies to grow your relationships at business functions:
Review your conversation techniques
When you are speaking to another person, are you learning more about him or sharing more about yourself?
Asking another person about himself is the simplest way to get a conversation going, and the more you ask, the quicker your relationship deepens.
Does the conversation reflect your views and opinions and does it help to focus your views?
Having an opinion is one thing, being willing to share your view and learn from others’ knowledge and opinions to broaden or develop your own is the key here. Always be willing to learn from others.
Do you feel moved, ready to take action or simply satisfied with the information you are sharing?
Getting involved in a conversation that engages your emotions is a powerful way to connect.
Feeling moved or ready to take action means you have connected at a deeper level and understood the core message.
Imagine if you could leave every conversation having moved others to take action.
Turn every conversation into give and take
Often, when we are at a business function, we want to get our message across, tell people what we do, figure out if they are a potential prospect or client and share lots of good information about our product or service.
Just stop for a moment and consider what might happen if you were to make every conversation about give and take.
So give first, ask the other person what he does, ask him how he does that, how his product or service is delivered, think about whether this is something you may find useful or, perhaps, if you know anyone who may be interested in his product. This is true giving.
The time to take will appear soon enough.
Start first with giving, put the urge to wax lyrical about what you do on hold and genuinely listen to what the other person is saying.
I can almost guarantee that if you listen and ask the other person about himself first, he will then turn the conversation around and ask about you.
This is the give-and-take process.
At this point — and only at this point — do you begin to talk about what you do and how your service or product may be able to help the other person or perhaps someone they know.
Listen actively, respond sparingly
People know when you are listening or just pretending to listen.
You can tell if another person is listening to you by his body language, posture and the expression in his eyes.
Remember, if you can tell that someone is not listening to you, it works both ways.
Practise active listening techniques.
Engage the other person fully with your eyes, look at their face as they speak, watch their lips move, notice the angle of their head, watch their gestures.
As they speak, give them visual and verbal cues that you are paying attention, nod your head in agreement, use phrases like, “Wow, that’s interesting” or “Okay, that’s useful to know”.
Using short phrases like these lets them know you are following what they are saying.
Respond using thoughtful open-ended questions, which will enable them to elaborate more and give you a full and complete explanation.
Remember, real relationships are based on real conversations. By taking a proactive approach to the art of good conversations, you can quickly deepen your relationships.
Never be afraid to be passionate about your subject and allow and encourage those you are engaging with to show their passion. Listen carefully and ask questions that show you are listening.
Remember to give and take in the conversation with the aim of giving first. Add these together and you will be a master of conversation and building relationships.
Article by Lindsay Adams, relationship marketing specialist, international speaker with Training Edge International and 2009–2010 international president of the Global Speakers Federation. For more information, e-mail Lindsay.firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.trainingedgeasia.com