As an entrepreneur, you’re going to have to be a social creature. It’s possible for introverts to be entrepreneurs, but you’re better off being more of a social butterfly when you’re in a line of work that literally means making connections, networking and working with others. This means meeting with lots of strangers, building relationships and talking to lots and lots of people you probably don’t even want to – but that’s the name of the game.
In general, personal relationships are essentially the bread and butter of the business world, entrepreneur or not. Because of this fact, if you aren’t good at striking up a conversation, you’re behind in the game. Don’t worry. It’s actually not hard to be more fluent in speaking with others, but if you’re not the best at it we’ve got a few tips to consider next time you go to a big meeting or networking event.
In fact, try using these tips in your everyday life – at the grocery store, with friends. You’ll find that using these tips, you’ll be better at conversing with anyone and everyone.
Be more open with others.
This doesn’t mean that you have to tell everyone you meet your life story – it means being more open to any and all possibilities when presented with them. The typical response to being asked a favor or when someone expresses a different viewpoint to you is to shut it down. As humans, we’re very defensive of our own ways of doing things and don’t like to be troubled.
Instead, get out more and consider what people say as something to think on, not shut down immediately. You don’t have to change your entire viewpoint, but try to be more understanding of others. When you have healthy debates and conversations with value, you become a better conversationalist – and a more pleasant person in general.
Learn how to tell a story.
When you talk, what you say should be compelling. You don’t have to have people hanging on your every word with every single conversation, but inject yourself into the things you say. Tell people your story when speaking to them. This kind of personality makes your conversations more real and legitimate, and it also makes them more memorable.
Storytelling techniques in business conversations helps you in a multitude of ways. It builds rapport by showing others your emotional narrative, as well as establishes authority when you command attention.
Genuine interest is your friend.
We’ve all been to meetings where we smile and nod and yet in our minds we’re worlds away from everyone else there. As much as you think you’re convincing everyone where that you want to be there, trust that most people can smell a fake attitude from miles away. Also, when you’re disinterested you’re more likely to not actually put your entire self into your conversation skills, whether you realize it or not.
Start making conversations interesting. Ask questions you care about. No more “Hi, how are you”’s – instead, focus on something interesting. “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “What would you be doing if you weren’t in this line of work?” “How would you solve this problem?”
No more fake personalities.
Just like people can fake interest, they can also fake their personality. You try to act a certain way because you think that type of behavior is what people will respond to, but again, people will know when you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes. Be yourself, as cliché as it sounds.
When you try to mimic others or a particular set of traits, you don’t put yourself into the conversation – you put someone else into it instead. Be more genuine in all aspects of your personality and behavior and you’ll be a better conversationalist.
Discover your common interests.
Want to find an easy way to connect with someone? Discuss something that you both know a lot about. Even though it might be cheesy to talk sports or hobbies as a method of business interaction, if it works in your personal life, it will work in business.
Do unto others…
When you offer people kindness and compliments, courtesies and compassion, they’ll do the same for you. Good conversations are one with positivity inserted into them. Even when talking about something wholly negative, you can always find a way to turn things around. “I really appreciate your debating skills.” “I like how you think about this issue, even if you don’t agree.”
This is essential to being good at conversing. As the golden rule states, do unto others and they’ll do the same to you.
Conversing is about exchanging information. You give an opinion, statement or fact, then your conversation partner does the same. Because it’s all about exchanging info, you have to be willing to absorb what you hear. Conversations are about learning, so keep your ears open.
Also, don’t let it go in one ear and out the other. Prove that you’re paying attention by throwing the information right back at them. Comment on what they say in a way that lets your partner know that you’re listening.