Conversation Skills and Networking

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am a big fan of the new SUCCESS Magazine. The August/September issue is another example of the great career and life success advice you can find in this mag.

Have you subscribed yet? If so, what do you think? Please leave a comment. If not, I suggest you do so today.

Dynamic communication is one the five career and life success factors I discuss in my new book, “Straight Talk for Success.” If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you need to become an excellent conversationalist, a clear and succinct writer and an effective presenter.

Networking events are the place where you most need excellent conversation skills. An article entitled “Working a Room” in the current issue of SUCCESS magazine has some great common sense advice on how to put your conversation skills to work.

I am a big believer that asking questions is a great way to become known as a great conversationalist. In the article, Debra Fine, my friend and author of “The Fine Art of Small Talk” makes an interesting and important point about asking question of strangers. “Never ask a question that could lead to discomfort. ‘Are you married?’ ‘Did your daughter get into KU?’ ‘How’s your girlfriend?’”

Debra is right. If you ask, “Are you married?” you might get a frosty “That’s none of your business” for an answer.

Have you ever had an embarrassing experience like this? What did you say? How did you recover? Please leave a comment describing the situation so we can all learn from your experience.

When you are networking situations, I suggest you ask questions like, “What brings you here tonight?” “What kind of work do you do?” These questions invite the other person to talk about himself or herself.

In my experience, most people like to talk to talk about themselves. All you have to do is give them the opportunity. Listen as they speak and respond appropriately. That’s what I always do when I’m in a room full of strangers. How about you?

In the same article, Tony Jeary makes a great point about using questions as a conversation tool. Give people “breathing space.” Wait a few seconds to “give them a moment to think about what they want to say.”

Susan RoAne also offers some great advice. She says to always add the words, “And what about you?” to the end of your answer to a question. This is great advice because it demonstrates that you’re interested in what the other person has to say. It saves you from dominating the conversation.

Ms. RoAne also adds a caveat about questions. She makes the point that you don’t want to turn the conversation into an interrogation. “You don’t want to seem like the FBI. Conversation is a mix.”

I agree. That’s what I mean when I say “listen and respond appropriately.” Add your thoughts, comments and experiences to the discussion. Questions are a great way to engage others. But a set of rapid fire inquiries with no self disclosure on your part can make the other person feel uncomfortable.

The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are dynamic communicators. Conversation skills are one of three key communication skills. Networking events are the time when you’re conversation skills really come into play. When you’re in a room full of strangers, initiate conversation with as many people as you can. Show interest in the other person by asking questions. Be willing to share your thoughts and ideas on what they say.

That’s my take on conversation skills and networking. What’s yours? As always I’m interested in what you have to say about this. I know you have something to say about this topic. Please leave a comment. Thanks for reading.

Bud

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Comments

  1. I love SUCCESS magazine. I happened on the first issue at Borders and took the two year subscription immediately after I finished reading it. I like their mix of topics, short and long articles, down to earth and more abstract, and real-life profiles.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Beth. I really appreciate you taking the time to write. I have passed on your comments to Darren Hardy, the publisher of SUCCESS Magazine.
    All the best,
    BB

  3. Thanks for including my tips that appear in How To Work a Room as well as well as in What Do I Say Next? Making conversation that builds connections and relations is a skill and gift. And it’s one we can acquire.
    If we remember that statistically most of us are uncomfortable/shy in some situations, we can be more successful when our goal is to “make others comfortable with us”. When we succeed doing that, we build bridges, connections and trust. The component that makes the most sense is to LISTEN. People tell us what they want to talk about and we can hear them if we are not worried about what to say next.

  4. Susan:
    Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it. And, you are absolutely correct. Listening is the key to connecting. People will tell you waht they want to talk about — as long as you listen.
    Your thoughts in the SUCCESS Magazine article were great. Keep on spreadig the word.
    All the best,
    BB

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