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What to Say After Your Introduction Eric Byrd
Episode 012: Your networking introduction is only the beginning of the conversation. Many people aren’t sure what to say after the intros are finished. If you don’t prepare you might find yourself rambling or worse realize you have nothing to say and lose an opportunity. In this episode Eric will talk about a simple way to continue the conversation by creating conversation elements that can be used whenever you need them. These fundamental building blocks can be mixed and matched as appropriate in any situation or environment to make sure you’re proactive and not missing out on the chance to find connections.
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Okay, You practiced your introduction. You delivered it with enthusiasm and they responded in kind. And then they said, So tell me more. What do you do now? Too little. And you’re done too much and they run away. Yeah. No pressure, huh? So a few years ago, I was at a holiday open house. I grab some many barbecue sandwiches which were totally yummy, by the way, and sat down to eat at one of the tables. There was another person there. He was a very nice gentleman. Looked very eager to talk, always helpful when you’re at a networking event. He introduced himself, and I did the same. He asked me what I did, and I shared a little bit about what I was doing. And why was there. And I asked him what he did, and he launched into this long winded winding, wandering tale of how he had worked in an industry for 20 years. And he got tired of that and then started this company and his partner had backed out and left him to figure it out. And he was struggling. He hired some people, but they didn’t quite work out. And now he was looking to grow the business, and frankly, at some point I just sort of checked out. It was, frankly, a little bit of too much t m I and I felt badly for him. He was a very nice gentleman, and I was interested a little bit in what he was doing, at least for the first, you know, 10 minutes or so, and I didn’t know quite how to help him. Unfortunately, he’s not the first person that I’ve seen do that or had experience with that. I also have seen something else happened with people. That is sort of the flip side of that is you introduce yourself, you meet them or they meet somebody and you ask them to tell you about themselves and they sort of freeze. They don’t. I know what to say. There really isn’t anything coming out of them. They just stand there or they just ask questions. They don’t actually ever tell you anything about themselves. They only ask you questions, and that could be a little frustrating. And frankly, I think it’s something that’s worth talking about. And there’s a reason why. And that’s because sometimes I think we talk way too much about introductions when we’re networking and we forget that that’s only the start. That’s only the beginning of the conversation. There’s a whole lot more to talk about and you need to prepare for. All of that may be even more then preparing for just the introduction. So I want to talk today about the way that you can develop the ability toe, have a comfortable and meaningful conversation with anyone wherever you are. Regular group at an event bump into somebody beyond the introduction. And I want to do that by sharing a technique that I call creating conversation elements. And this is something that I sort of hit on a number of years ago when I realized that I was sort of running out of things to say. But I needed to find a way to deliver the messages that I wanted to deliver and to make this conversation, not just chit chat and small talk and meaningless platitudes that were very pleasant and very nice but didn’t really actually help either of us accomplish what we were there to do. Which is to get to know people, look for those connections and hopefully find some people that we can create some relationship with work with, become referral partners with do some business with or the like. There are three elements that I came up with that I like tohave in my back pocket, so to speak these air very helpful tohave whenever I’m out meeting people, and I used them a lot when I was in the lead share group. Conversation elements are as follows, and then I’m gonna describe them a little more in detail and give you a little bit more in depth. The 1st 1 is statements. The 2nd 1 is questions, and the 3rd 1 is stories. So the rest of the time we’re gonna talk a little bit about statements, questions and stories and how to prepare them in advance so that you have them when you need them. So first off, let’s start with statements. Statements are basically bits and pieces of information that you tell us about you, about what you do or about how you do it. They could be about almost anything and frankly, these air, the things that I feel in most people already are thinking about when they are interacting with people. And often these are what make up most people’s introductions. Little pieces of data are little pieces of information, phrases, sentences, and I find that it’s very helpful if the things that you choose as statements are designed to help the other person understand you better, or your company or your products or who you work with. I hear are a lot of people using very generic language ing and very generic pieces of data, and I think that that can be a mistake. It’s not bad to provide something that helps them understand that’s within their realm of experience. But we want to make sure that you are getting specific enough that it actually helps people understand you specifically, so don’t be too generic. If it’s too generic, it might not actually be helpful and it might kind of fall into that category of unhelpful information, and you might as well just be chit chatting about traffic or the weather or things like that. For example, instead of saying that you’re a plumber, you might share that. You’ve been a plumber for 20 years and you specialize in homes or commercial or things like that. So make it more specific. Please give some detail. So where do you find these statements? Well, they usually come from lots of different places, and a lot of these you may already have some of them are industry statistics or information about your company or information about you fax about you. How long you been doing things, what you do, how you do it, where you’re located, all that sort of thing. Some of them may have come from other sources, like a trade association or something like that. You also can ask yourself some questions that will help draw those out. So here are some questions you can ask yourself that may help you generate some more interesting and more useful statements to be able to use. Here’s some examples. Why did you start your company? So answer that question and then turned that into a statement and you can share that statement with somebody to help them understand you a little more effectively. Here’s another one. How many customers do you have? And who are they, or what do they look like? How do I know your customers? And how do I know I might be one? When did you start doing whatever it is you do, Whether that’s in your own company or whether it’s for the company you work for and what are the top three outcomes your customers experience? That’s an interesting way to figure out what information you might want to be sharing. Or when does someone typically hire you? What’s going on for that person or company? When do they find that they are in most need of calling you now? That is obviously a very small sample of the possible questions you could ask to come up with statements that could be useful. Hopefully, those few examples help you out. Expand on that, go crazy. There’s no wrong question. There’s no wrong answer Now. Speaking of questions, you also want to be asking questions in conversations. Now there’s a couple of very specific reasons why this is important. First off conversations are a two way experience, So if you’re standing there talking and they’re not talking or they’re talking and you’re not talking, I don’t know if we can actually classify. That is a conversation. But we certainly can’t classify that as a meaningful conversation. So in order to have a meaningful conversation, one that’s useful to both of you have some questions ready that may not be completely obvious. There’s some obvious questions that you’re probably already asking. Who are you? What do you do? What your company named that sort of thing come up with some ones that are little more interesting and maybe a little more unexpected. That will help you to get to know this person who you’re talking to a little more effectively. And there may be some ways based on the questions that you uncovered, those connections that will help you to actually then follow up and broaden out and discover if there’s an interest in continuing toe. Have conversation with this person because that’s a big part of what we’re doing When we’re networking, we’re not only qualifying to find out if they’re a sales prospect, although that may be part of it. But There’s also an element of determining whether the conversation should continue or not. Regardless, some examples of questions that you might have on hand are. How long have you been doing your job? Or maybe when did you first realize you wanted to do that? How did you get into your profession? There might be an interesting story behind that, and you wanna have them share that. One of my favorites is what’s the strangest thing anyone has ever said to you had a networking event? That’s a good one. Who knows what you’ll hear could be very interesting. That’s a particularly good one to break the ice once that initial conversation with the kind of chitchat stuff that you used to get started with starts to die down and you’re not quite sure what to talk about the third element that you can create our stories. Now when I talk about stories, I’m not talking about launching into the once upon a time and then talk for 30 minutes. That’s not what I’m talking about. But stories are really a great format for sharing information. To be able to illustrate something that’s more complex than a statement or to show credibility instead of just saying that you’re good at something so you can tell them about an experience that a customer had and maybe what that customer said to you, and that can be a great way to demonstrate your value to that customer Now. That’s not necessarily that you’re going to automatically have value to the person you’re talking to a TTE that moment. But you’re demonstrating that you had value to the customer who you’re telling the story about, and it also gives you the opportunity toe lay out some more complex dynamics than just saying I’m a plumber and I fixed pipes. You might be ableto spool that out in such a way that it shows what kind of work you do or how you do what you do. For example, you might talk about a time when you tried to go out of your way to help a customer, and that can be helpful because it shows that you have an eye for customer service, that you even tried to go out of your way to help a customer. Let’s this person know that you are the kind of person or company or both that will do that, and that can be hugely helpful because you’re demonstrating something. You might even have some stories prepared about time when things went wrong. Share what you did about it. For airlines, the number one airline is often not the one that loses the luggage the least. It’s the one that responds the best when the luggage does get lost, telling a story about how the luggage got lost and what you did to find it again and recover it and get it back to the traveler, that can be really powerful and can speak much louder than you saying something like, I have great customer service. I don’t necessarily recommend that you go crazy, especially at the beginning. You will want to create multiple versions of each type of element so that you have them on hand. It’s sort of like you put them in your pocket, and you can pull them out in a conversation when you need them. So here’s what I suggest. Start with three stories, five statements and five questions. Now, if you want to do more, that’s fantastic. But this 35 and five gives you the opportunity to remember them because that’s the other part. You have to be able to pull them out when you need them. And if you have so many that you can’t remember them, that’s not kind of particularly be helpful. So this will give you a nice selection to begin with. And then you can start using them as needed in introductions, even if you want to. But they’re much more useful as conversations progress, and you’re looking for something to say, or you’re looking for a way to make the conversation go somewhere more meaningful than just that surface level. Now you will want to practice whatever they are. The questions, especially in the stories. Certainly this is a good use of the people in your networking group, By the way, they can help you practice these and give you feedback on how they’re coming across, so that you know, if words are making sensor of phrases and the stories are going somewhere and they’re understandable, so you don’t trip over awkward words and things like that. It’s always useful to say it out loud and have somebody help you practice. Now. These elements can be used whenever they’re appropriate to the situation, be mindful of that, there’s nothing worse than trying to force one of these elements into a conversation where it doesn’t belong. If you know, for example, that they come to an event often, don’t use the question. How often do you come here that sort of a throwaway? I’m just saying, Use some common sense here now These can be great. When the conversation lags as well, you can grab one and throw it out there for the other person to react to. Questions are particularly good for this use. You may need to modify the questions slightly on the fly as you need, depending on the situation that you find yourself in. Perhaps you can drop in specifics from whatever is going on around you, or if you’re at a particular place or if you’re at the conference. You can ask what session was most interesting to them, for example, and this keeps it relevant to what’s going on then and there. And be careful not to try and milk the conversation beyond the natural ending point. If you’re getting the sense that the other person wants to quit talking, then it’s probably best to end the conversation and stop talking rather than continuing to try to force it. That can feel really pushy and can give the impression that you are working them or that you’re just running an agenda that’s totally self serving and you’re not thinking of the other person. So there you go statements, questions and stories. Now, hopefully, those tips will help you in preparing for conversations. When you’re meeting people, don’t forget. The same elements can be used with people you already know. Those stories are especially useful in helping make a one on one meeting with someone from your lead share group. More productive. It could help them get more detail about how you do what you do and the potential benefits for others that they may want to refer to you. So have those elements ready and waiting. Thank you for listening. I really appreciate your time. It’s great to be able to come here. Don’t forget, you can record a question or a story at the show website at Adventures and networking dot Net. I would love to hear from you and actually, in the comments on the episode page, why don’t you share the answer to this question? What’s the most important question to make sure you ask somebody in the conversation. Let’s see what people have to say about that. I’m very interested in what you think. Thanks again. Until next time, remember, life is an adventure, so keep exploring.