By Beatrice Mokwunye
In my previous post on how to approach someone you’ve never met before, we discussed the preparatory phases of networking. Now, let’s assume you have successfully approached this person and realised “oh, she’s even friendlier than I thought.”But, what happens after an introduction? That is, after the “Hi…Hello,” “I’m this…I’m that” stuff. What follows? Unfortunately, this juncture is usually a huge problem for most conversation starters like myself.
I could remember, at the early stages of my networking experience, I was offered a ride, by an acquaintance, to Peninsula–kilometres away from my home. After the usual “Hello and Hi,” I dozed off. There was nothing more to say. A similar issue happened to me at a conference, one day. I met a lady; we exchanged pleasantries. After the introduction, I ran out of words. Minutes later, she picked up her bag and left—who would want to sit with a nerd?
It took me months of learning and continuous practice to correct. So, today, I’m going to share with you those techniques that work perfectly for me. Of course, they might be quite different from the ones you’ve probably read from other sites, but trust me, these techniques are super effective if properly incorporated. Let’s get started.
First, put yourself in the person’s shoes
“If were this lady/guy, what kind of conversation bore you most and which one will get you talking none stop?
Start on a High Note—ask a striking question or make a request.
The easiest way to get people engaged is asking questions or requesting for their opinion regarding a particular topic, which you feel he (she) might be interested in. Also, ensure it’s something you’re passionate about as that will prompt you to throw more and more questions, share personal experiences or opinions. One of the general topics that people love to talk about is relationship—how men are monsters and women, jezebels; politics, national issues, movies, music, and trendy issues. In my observations and experiences so far, I’ve discovered how extremely effective questions and opinion-seeking is. People tend to connect better and talk with you for hours when you provide a platform for them to express their thoughts, share their knowledge and exercise their opinions.
Listen with the heart, not the head.
A good communicator listens with the intention of understanding—that’s listening with the heart. If you want the conversation to extend, you must forget what to say and focus on what that person is saying. When you listen with the heart, first, it builds a strong connection between you and the person. People feel comfortable talking to you when they could see it through your eyes—the heart that cares. Secondly, listening provides you with a broad array of things to talk about from what has been said. For instance, if you’re really following, there would be a statement or series of ideas, you’ll want further clarification on. Asking or introducing your own opinion on that specific statement extends the conversation and make it more interesting. That’s the benefit of listening.
Build on the most striking statement.
After she’s done talking, identify a striking statement from her speech and ask for further clarification or share your personal experience—if any. Try to use humour when sharing your experience. Laughter induces the production of two significant bonding hormone—dopamine and oxytocin—thereby establishing strong connectivity between you two.
Feel free to debate
However, you can as well introduce an opposing view, which makes the conversation longer and more interesting. Feel free to express your intelligence, in fact sometimes, you can deliberately choose to disagree; it helps you get to know the other person better, but be careful not to “impose” your views on this person. That is, avoid an argument. In a debate, you share your views, opinions and intellect, in a matured manner, but for argument, you’re likely to blab and yell for no specific course.
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