I ran across these tips today and even though it was written for networking meetings and events, I think they can be applied in many daily activities that we find ourselves in.
1. Keep up on the latest news.
- Having one or two recent events to talk about can help break the ice. (The weather doesn’t count.)
2. Ask Questions.
- If there is one thing everyone can talk about with confidence, it’s themselves. Asking questions and really listening shows that you care. If you are using the word “I” too often, you are not asking enough questions.
3. Appreciate the person you are talking to.
- Even if you don’t agree with them, think of a reason to appreciate them. This attitude will subconsciously be communicated through your face and body language as you talk to them.
4. Use people’s names.
- This not only helps you to remember them later, but it helps make a more lasting impression. People like to hear their names used. If you don’t remember their name, don’t hesitate to apologize and ask them again. It shows that you are making an effort to remember them.
5. Follow their lead.
- People are naturally attracted to others like them. Be aware of their body language and communication style. Don’t stand too close to someone who appears uncomfortable with this. Don’t speak too fast to someone who speaks very slowly. It’s really just trying to make them feel at ease.
6. Avoid controversial subjects.
- The old adage “never talk politics or religion” is usually true. Unless the event is specifically focused on either of these, it’s best to keep the subject matter less polarizing.
7. Be Helpful.
- The goal of your conversation shouldn’t be “How can I solve your problem?” It should be more about listening and understanding. However, if you do find that there is a way for you to help the person, be generous.
8. Don’t monopolize the other person’s time.
- They are there to network with as many people as possible. If you really hit it off, set up a time to have coffee with them in the future.
9. Approach others that are by themselves or appear uncomfortable.
- You’re not the only one who may be uncomfortable. Have empathy for others and help put them at ease. Introduce them to others and include them in the conversation, on breaks and at lunch if possible.
- This should probably be No. 1 on the list, but most people take it for granted. Show people that you are happy to be there and appreciate the opportunity to meet them. If you’re not happy to be there, smile anyway. Your smile will be contagious to others, and perhaps their good mood will help lighten yours.