Keys to Connecting Through Conversation

An entrepreneur recently asked me about passion. He was always so passionate about his company’s products and the latest and greatest thing that he was doing that he couldn’t stop talking. Then suddenly he would notice that faraway look in his listeners’ eyes, and realize he’d lost their attention.

When you’re in business for yourself, or even in a corporate setting, your enthusiasm for what you do and why you do it may be boundless. It’s so gratifying to be doing exactly what you want to do.

But how do you keep from alienating your audience if they don’t share your passion for business process re-engineering, for example, or saving the Allegheny muskrat?

At the end of the day, people will gravitate toward you (or not) based on how you make them feel. What you say does play a role, but even if they connect with your words, they can feel disconnected from you as a person if you’re not showing interest in them.

Here are a few fundamentals:

1) Monitor how well you’re communicating. Does the crowd at a networking meeting appear to stay connected to you? Are they eager for you to follow up with them? Do your one-on-one meetings result in progress? If you can’t answer with a hearty yes, you could use some improvement. But it’s a big step just to realize this!

2) Take a pause. Once you’ve relayed a short example or story about your work, don’t go right into the next thing you want to say. Pause and give the other person a chance to jump in. If you’re holding a drink, take a sip so they have a chance to be heard.

3) Learn how to ask questions. The best way to stay on track in the conversation is to engage from the beginning. Ask questions to open the door and show you are interested in what they have to say. I’m not sure you can regain the attention of your audience once you’ve lost them, but if it’s possible to do so, asking questions is the key.

Whether it’s your lunch meeting, a cold or warm business call, a networking get-together, or any other situation in which you hope to cultivate a new customer or partner, making them feel included and valued and listened to shows you care about them as individuals, and that makes all the difference.


© 2012, Liz Lynch International LLC

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