If you like this post, please share:

If you liked this post, please share:

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.

P.S.  Please do me a favor — if you liked this post and like this blog, please share it with others by sending them the link and/or post it on your Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, etc.  Also, don’t forget to subscribe, so you’ll get emails when new content is posted.  Thanks!

Publishing Partner

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Leave a comment



Margaret Fleming

7 years ago

Thank you! I’m sure I’ve been one-upping with stories.
Margaret Fleming

Sara Marberry

7 years ago

It’s hard not to, Margaret!

Bill Coble

7 years ago

This is so true and one I’m going to hang on to for awhile as a reminder of how to be a good citizen of learning and contributing. Great points – thank you.

Sara Marberry

7 years ago

You’re welcome — thanks for your comment!

Carolyn Yohn

7 years ago

#4 is my personal favorite group conversation tactic—the quiet ones always have the best ideas, probably because they think it through before they say it out loud. Sometimes, they were quiet because they were shy about expressing a dissenting opinion. Drawing it out really makes for interesting discussion!

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Sara Marberry, EDAC, is a healthcare design knowledge expert, thought catalyst, and strategic marketing and business development consultant. The author/editor of three books, Sara writes and speaks frequently about industry trends and evidence-based design. She can be reached at sara@saramarberry.com.

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