MacDonald: Small talk means big bucks
March 17, 2014
How is your marketing pipeline? Could you use more prospective clients? Is there any reason you would not want more clients starting right now? Business may be good and guess what … it can always be better…right? Let's look at how to affect that desired result.
If you want more ideal clients, learn how to conduct small talk. I am not referring to talking about the weather, last night's game or the latest political bumble. Stay away from gossip. It is a drain of energy that could otherwise be directed more productively. Excellent advice to heed, in this case, comes from Eleanor Roosevelt, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
So, what are some ideas you can discuss with people you don't know yet who may be prospective clients? Successful business people understand the power of networking. They know their network directly affects their net worth. They have developed the ability to master small talk in order to cultivate an expansive network.
In his classic book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," Dale Carnegie is known for providing the following counsel: "You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you."
When you make new friends, you thereby create infinite possibilities that otherwise would not exist.
The way to be interested in others is to follow the line of SMALL talk. Remember Roosevelt highlighting the importance of discussing ideas. Have an idea to expand on as you meet people. When you meet people and learn about them, find out what they are excited about in their life. Here are some parameters that can help you along the way. You can remember these ideas by remembering the word SMALL.
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Simple — Remember to be interested. Have questions at the ready for inquiring about the person to whom you are speaking. Before you head out to your next networking event, come up with seven simple questions you can ask someone to get them talking about their business, family, hobby or community involvement. For example, how did you get into or start your business? What do you enjoy most about attending these kinds of events?
Meaningful — Once you have gained some information about your new acquaintance, weave in a question that is meaningful in relation to what you now know about them. For example, what excites you about the new project you are developing? Are you looking further ahead than just that particular project? How will you feel once you complete that?
Authentic — Trust your gut. If a question or comment pops into your head, then share it. It's what makes you unique.
Limbic system — Ask questions that appeal to the heart of the brain, which is the limbic system. It's the part responsible for processing our emotional life. Most people make the mistake of communicating only to the neo cortex of the brain, which processes logically, facts and figures. We feel connected to others when we are activating each other's limbic system. People make decisions based on emotion and then they justify that decision with logic.
Here is a simple trick: If you mention a fact or feature about your product or company, try following it up with this: And what that means to you is …. Next, state a benefit they could receive or experience and/or how this fact could impact their life.
Loving — Part of loving is accepting what is and accepting people for how they are. Learn to listen with an objective ear rather than a critical ear.
Be curious in learning how other people see the world. Connections with people occur when we feel seen and heard. Your prospective client is no exception. Ask questions to gain insight into how they see and feel in life: e.g., That's a unique perspective. How did you arrive at seeing it that way?
Hopefully, with the simple practice of being interested in people and asking questions, you will make new connections which can lead to opportunities for new clients and new friends.
A relationship is like a bridge: You need to build it before you can use it. Once it is built, you and the other person can continually help each other get to where you each want to go.
Make it up, make it fun and make it happen!
Machen P. MacDonald, CPCC, CCSC is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley. He helps business people gain more confidence and clarity to live their ideal life. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 530-273-8000 or visit http://probrillilance.com.
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