Making more when ‘Networking’

Most of us find it difficult to find our place and hit the ‘effective extrovert’ button when networking, or meeting new people for the first time. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an easy way of changing all that?

Well there is!

How to turn small talk into big ideas at the next social event:

Ask for stories, not answers

One way to get beyond small talk is to ask open-ended questions. Aim for questions that invite people to tell stories, rather than give bland, one-word answers.

Instead of . . .
“How are you?”
“How was your day?”
“Where are you from?”
“What do you do?”
“What line of work are you in?”
“What’s your name?”
“How was your weekend?”
“What’s up?”
“Would you like some wine?”
“How long have you been living here?”

Try . . .
“What’s your story?”
“What did you do today?”
“What’s the strangest thing about where you grew up?”
“What’s the most interesting thing that happened at work today?”
“How’d you end up in your line of work?”
“What does your name mean? What would you like it to mean?”
“What was the best part of your weekend?”
“What are you looking forward to this week?”
“Who do you think is the luckiest person in this room?”
“What does this house remind you of?”
“If you could teleport by blinking your eyes, where would you go right now?”

Break the mirror

When small talk stalls out, it’s often due to a phenomenon we call “mirroring.” In our attempts to be polite, we often answer people’s questions directly, repeat their observations, or just blandly agree with whatever they say.

Mirrored example:
Nic: It’s a beautiful day!
Grant: Yes, it is a beautiful day!

See? By mirroring Nic’s opinion and language, Grant has followed the social norm, but he’s also paralyzed the discussion and missed a moment of fun. Instead, Grant needs to practice the art of disruption and move the dialogue forward:

Non-mirrored example:
Nic: It’s a beautiful day!
Grant: They say that the weather was just like this when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. If that actually happened.

See? Now Nic and Grant are talking! Be provocative. Absurdity is underrated.

Go ahead, be bold. Up end the dinner table conversation! Turn small talk into big ideas at the next business event you to attend!

with thanks to TED Ideas

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