We know that – in order to provide value – we need to know as much as we can about our audience’s motivations, inspirations, drivers and fears.
But it happens to the best of us that we are at a network event, say the typical hey, how are you? So what are you doing? And then … this awkward silence.
To make sure that this year’s Christmas parties and network events end up with meaningful relationships, here are some tips on how you can make an impact in conversations and keep the flow going.
1. Tell Me More About...
Simple but super effective.
Because you give the person the feeling of genuinely being interested in hearing even more after already know a bit about them.
And who doesn’t feel flattered to get asked to dive even deeper in a topic – that usually is something they enjoy doing?
It is the good feel factor what makes people remember you as thinking about something positive evokes emotions which releases dopamine to the brain and makes us act.
In this case: remember us. Positively.
How it can look in practice:
Tell me more about how that works. Tell me more about your thinking there. You mentioned [insert project/challenge/idea] — tell me more about how you’re approaching that.
This approach shows you’re interested in more than just the superficial ‘it’s going well’ talk and usually gives you plenty to talk about for hours.
Plus: you can use it for just about everyone—whether or not you really know about what they do.
2. What do you like most about …?
- What’s the best part of your role?
- What’s your favorite part of what you do?
- What lights you up in your business?
This is a question I always ask personally but also professionally and both - my candidates and my clients as it gives a good insights as to what they enjoy doing, what drives and motivates them and how to leverage this interest in other roles, environments, …
It also tapes into emotions as people get to talk about something they have a positive association with and most likely – because they are good at it. And hands on heart- who doesn’t like to go there?
3. How Did You Get Into…?
That’s another Must–Ask question for me for two reasons:
- People love stories. People have stories. People love to tell their stories.
- Insights in their way of learning: it gives you a good indication if someone just fell into a profession and mastered it, if they took specific and planned steps to get there, if they knew someone who was doing it and recommended them to do the same …
Especially with Digital: this was and still is the number one question I ask to get an understanding how quickly candidates will pick up new trends based on their previous behaviour – aka: learning it hands on. This is one of the key skills talents (in demand) need: adoptability.
4. What’s Your Biggest Challenge?
There isn’t a business on the planet that doesn’t have its challenges. New competitors, fast paced consumer requirement changes, recruiting the best talents, ….this list can go on and on and on and on …
In addition to keeping the conversation flowing, it also adds some deeper level of connection to the conversation and might even inspire to new ways of thinking as the opponent gets a different perspective from someone not close to their business.
5. What’s Your Favorite Cheese/ Beer Brand/…?
Now before you think I’m already in party rather than work mode – keep reading!
This question may seem a ‘what the …’ question, one that is not very professional and will throw a curve ball in the conversation and guess what? So it should!
You build rapport and a relationship by knowing people from a private perspective and by questions like that that also add a bit of fun, you get people to have a laugh and with that, positive emotions with you!
A question like this might result in a story about a beautiful meal in Europe or a funny Christmas Part debacle, it might turn into a debate about what the best beer on earth is or you establish common ground for the same farmers market where you get your cheese from
Don’t overcomplicate it
To wrap it up – remember one rule, the golden rule: don’t overcomplicate and overthink it!
Get into the mindset of being genuinely curious about someone’s story and experience and you will see the conversation keeps going naturally. Just remember it’s not what you say but how you make people feel that will stick in their mind – positively and negatively. So whatever your values are that you want other people to associate with you, keep that in mind when choosing the words, tone and gestures supporting that.