For a thirty something year old single lady, I have been advised severally to go out more and meet more people. You know, those mostly unsolicited advice on how to meet the right man? Well, much as I hate to admit it, some of these advice are apt especially for couch potatoes like me whose favorite past time is to curl up on their sofa and watch movies. So when I finally agree to attend that networking event, I worry about how I can make the most of it and meet the right kind of people. I have come to realize that showing up at those events is just one of the many steps involved in this process. If you are like me who waits for other people to approach you rather than do the approaching, we tend to get disappointed with the outcome of our attendance of these events. So, I have decided to be more proactive with this approach and learn to be more deliberate about meeting new people and start a conversation with anyone who piques my interest.
Now I am aware that this approach is well outside the comfort zone of most of us. There will be fearful thoughts like ‘what if he/she doesn’t like me’? ‘What if I say the wrong thing’? ‘What if he/she gets the wrong impression about me’? These thoughts are perfectly normal however, you must overcome the initial fear in order to be successful. Now, I am not going to tell you that everyone you approach or meet will like you, neither will I promise that everyone you meet will have the right mindset. But if you see this as an adventure then you will be ready to embrace the entire experience, high or low.
I have started this adventure, and while I have met some very weird individuals who tried to take advantage of my hand of friendship, I have met some fantastic people who have played very positive roles in my life. I will tell you all about a few people I have met in subsequent post, but for those of you who will like to join me on this adventure, let me share with you seven ways to start a conversation with people.
1. Start by complimenting them.
Sharing a compliment is ALWAYS a good place to start. Everyone wants to be validated and compliments make us all feel good, no matter how well we hide it. Make sure the compliment is genuine because people can tell when a compliment is fake.
2. Talk about something pleasant about the place you’re at.
If you’re at a beach, an event centre or wherever, there’s always something interesting about the place that you can talk about. It might be something the person doesn’t know either.
3. You can start a conversation by asking the person a question.
Make sure you smile as you do so and focus on the person’s answer, so he/she knows you’re interested in what they have to say.
4. If there’s a lull in the conversation, ask something that would shake things up.
Like asking them what the most exciting thing in their life is. It is an opportunity to know what they are passionate about. Be sure to actually listen before you respond.
5. Ask them about the countries or states they’ve visited
Talking about interesting places one has been to before is always fun. Start with local destinations before moving on to other countries.
6. Ask questions about them in a non-creepy way.
Lol. Be careful with this. Nigerians are naturally suspicious people, so if you just keep firing the person questions about himself/herself back to back, you have effectively ruined that conversation. It is not an interrogation, so please be careful with this. You can offer some information about yourself and then ask for similar info from the person. For example, “I think my favorite thing about my job is that the management is so understanding and I get to travel and meet new people. I’m a client service executive at an FCM, what do you do?”
7. Bring up a shared experience or acquaintance if possible.
Talk about mutual friends or an interesting experience you’ve had together. If that’s not possible, try to talk about similar interests like music, sports, movies, books, etc
Just let it flow really.
The most important conversational skill is listening. Once you have that down, the rest of the conversation will fall in place.
Sometimes the people you meet might be people you already know but are not so close to or maybe you’re speaking to a stranger for the first time, whatever conversation starter you’ll be using should be dependent on that. Very important. You don’t want to freak someone out, do you?
I will love to know how this goes, so be sure to come back to share your experiences with me in the comment section!
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