A lot of people ask ‘what should I talk about when I am meeting someone new?
In some ways it is an impossible question to answer but in some ways it’s very easy.
The easy response is to just be yourself – you’ve built friendships and relationships many time and there is really no difference in a work situation. The problem is that in a work situation most people put significant pressure on themselves to try to be the smartest person in the room to impress with knowledge. The key is to remember:
1. People want to talk to someone who is authentic
2. Being authentic requires a lot less energy than trying to being something you are not – save the energy for talking about a topic you are authentically interested in
3. It should be about building a relationship and for that to be long-term it has to be built on a solid or true foundation.
The key for me (as well as being authentic) is to create a focused conversation on something of mutual interest. So how do you find the topic of mutual interest. Here’s my 5 simple tips:
1. do your research on the person and the company – but don’t create a script. It’s amazing what you can learn from LinkedIn, twitter etc that will allow you to direct the conversation to areas that interest the other person
2. have a Point of View to take in and be prepared to use and also be prepared to throw it away (ie not use it if the other person wants to go down another path)
3. give the client some space through questions and sharing observations that allows them to raise issue of interest to them
4. share an article of piece of thought leadership that you believe may be of interest
5 raise a couple of areas that are of interest to you – that you do have knowledge about but would genuinely like more insight from the other person.
At the end of the day, every one likes to feel valued, likes to engage on a topic of mutual interest and wants their opinion to be heard