Years ago, as a young associate editor for Contract magazine, I went to my first NeoCon trade show in Chicago at The Merchandise Mart. I was assigned to visit about 15 showrooms, find the marketing VP or president, introduce myself, and make conversation.
Being an introvert by nature, this wasn’t comfortable for me at first. But I learned how to do it.
This weekend, many of you are heading to the Healthcare Design conference in Orlando, FL. You’ll be attending education sessions, going on facility tours, visiting companies in the trade show, participating in meetings, going out to dinner, and attending special events and receptions.
You’ll also be having a lot of business conversations — with colleagues, clients, and other individuals who you’ll meet for the first time at conference.
How can you make the most out of these conversations? So that you walk away having learned something, with a great new idea, or a business connection? Here are 6 suggestions (shamelessly ripped off from a recent Michael Hyatt podcast):
1. Be intentional. Approach every conversation with the goal of having a good conversation.
2. Use open-ended questions. Ones that require more than just one word answers. Examples: “What did you learn today that you can take back to your office and use Monday morning?” “What are you doing in your work or life that is really exciting right now?”
3. Ask a second question. A follow-up to your first question so you can dig deeper into the conversation. Reporters know how to do this. Think like a reporter.
4. Draw out quieter people. If you’re at a small group gathering, like a business dinner or get-to-know-you meeting, there’s always someone who doesn’t jump into the conversation. But often, it’s that person who has the most interesting thing to say.
5. Don’t “one up” people. The most insulting thing you can do to someone is to top their story with one of your own. It signals that you’re not really hearing or processing what they are saying, and that you are more important than them. And that’s really boring.
6. Do more listening than talking. This is really hard to do for many of us. But, there’s a reason you have two ears and only one mouth.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask personal questions or delve into topics of the day. People love to talk about their kids, interests, favorite sports teams, etc. — and it gives you some insight into their personality.
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