I love the power of words and how you can re-arrange them in such a way to create impact. But how do you do that when meeting people?

It’s not just networking events that give you this opportunity. Hopefully, you are also meeting people personally.

Maybe you’re traveling to RV campgrounds, sitting in the stands at a professional ball game or even your kids’ or grandkids’ games. I used these techniques on the cruise ship and while in Italy, Turkey and Greece. They work worldwide!

 
 

Change Your Mindset

First, you have to change your mindset. You need to make the time to value each person that crosses your path. After all, the person is right there in front of you – this is your chance! Remember that everyone has a story to tell, you only need to stop and listen.

Introduce Yourself

Get in the habit of offering your name first. It’s rude to ask, “Yo, what’s your name,” isn’t it? It’s much better to say, “Hi there, I’m Sheryl, and you are_________?”

Be Creative

There are any number of questions you could ask… just be creative about it.

Poor examples like, “Come here often?” “How do you like this weather?” “Are those your kids?” would get you a one-word answer, and then the conversation stops.

Better examples are: “What do you enjoy about attending these events?” “Why did you pick this campground to visit?” “If you’ve been to America, what food did you enjoy most?”

These are open-ended, reflective questions. They allow the person to open up about likes, dislikes and opinions, which would help you learn more about them.

Job Curiosity

If you want to ask about a person’s occupation, instead of asking, “What do you do for a living?” rearrange the words and say, “Why did you choose the profession you’re in?”

Hear the difference? It’s subtle, but opens doors for further conversation.

The Same Crowd

When you see the same people all the time at games, church, association meetings, etc., make sure you have different questions to ask each time. Don’t go for the usual “What’s new?” or “How’re the kids?”

If you want to show genuine interest, ask, “What are you excited about this week?” “What are you working on this week?” “Is there anyone I can introduce you to at this meeting?”

Business Techniques

Every January, I have advanced my business by using these techniques. I purposely seek out three of the most respected people in my field (that I know) and call them with one of these questions:

“What’s the best business decision you made this year?” “What’s one thing I need to avoid this year?” “If you had a brand new credit card with $3000 on it, what’s the best business investment you can make?” I get the best answers!

Surprisingly, each person is happy to share their insights. Why? Because I follow-up after I take their advice, thank them, and tell them specifically how that helped my business. Most people don’t want to share their secrets because they know others will do nothing with the valuable information they shared.

Enjoy the experience of every person that crosses your path. There’s a reason why they’re in front of you today!

What kinds of questions do you use to start a great conversation? Do you take the time to value conversations with strangers? Please share your thoughts and tips below!

Sheryl NicholsonSheryl Nicholson is an international professional speaker, author and podcaster known for her authenticity and results-oriented tips. She relates quickly to women and their real-life challenges at work and in their “love space.” Her work-life balance podcast is available on iTunes or here. She shares leadership tips at her website.

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