10 Questions to Ask When Meeting Someone for the First Time

When meeting someone for the first time, do you ever find yourself getting tongue-tied or feeling lost when it comes to knowing what questions you should ask to get a conversation going? Help is here!

Below, I list 10 questions that I personally use when I’m meeting someone for the first time.  Most of the questions shouldn’t be too surprising to you because what you’re trying to glean from an initial conversation with someone is usually pretty standard.  However, there are two questions that I really, really love.  One of them will allow you to get an idea of what someone is truly passionate about when it comes to their business.  The other will create a powerful opportunity for you to make a real connection and begin building a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.

Here are ten great questions to ask someone while networking that are then likely to be asked of you in return. These would be great questions to pose during your next one-to-one meeting.

1. What do you do?

2. Who’s your target market?

3. What do you like most about what you do?

4. What’s new in your business?

5. What’s the biggest challenge for you and your business?

6. What sets you apart from your competition?

7. Why did you start your business?

8. Where is your business located?

9. What’s your most popular product?

10. How do you generate most of your business?

In his book Endless Referrals, my good friend Bob Burg posed what may be the single best question we’ve heard to ask someone about what he or she does. Bob writes that the question “must be asked smoothly and sincerely, and only after some initial rapport has been established”. The question is this: ‘How can I know if someone I’m talking to is a good prospect for you?” Bob is right on the mark with this question. It separates you from the rest of the pack; it’s a question that the average person doesn’t ask. And it demonstrates one of the top ten traits of a master networker: helpfulness

Please think about what questions you ask people during an initial introduction.  Do you have any different or unusual questions which you’ve found to be particularly helpful in your conversations?  I’ve told you what questions I use and I’m very curious to hear what questions you’ve had success with, so please take a moment to share in the comment forum below.

Four Strategies to Stay in Touch

People often ask me, “how can I stay in touch with people or get back in touch with people that I haven’t seen or spoken with recently?”

Start by making a commitment to improving this area.  There’s a great Chinese proverb that I really like – “When’s the best time to plant an Oak tree?  The answer is – 20 years ago.  When’s the second best time – now!”

So, here are 4 strategies that will help you improve in this area.  If you can’t do them all – do what works for you.

  1. Sort through your list of people. You can’t stay in touch with everyone.  Who do you want to make sure to stay connected with and why?  It could be personal, it could be professional, but create a list that you want to focus on.
  2. Use the system they use! It doesn’t have to be Facebook or LinkedIn – use Pinterest or other programs, Snapchat, What’s App – whatever they use.   Each of my children uses  different systems.  If I want to connect with them – I need to go where they are.  For my oldest daughter, it’s texting or a phone call.  For my second daughter, it’s What’s App or texting.  For my son, it’s an online game called Steam.  I have some business associates who only reach out to me on Facebook or LinkedIn.  Others are strictly email or a phone call.  The key here – is to go where the people you want to talk to, hangout.
  3. Use social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter to your advantage by sharing news and reading updates without having to reach out to people on an individual basis. Social media is fantastic. Instead of starting your next call with, “What’s new?” you can jump to, “You cut off your hair!” “You have a new job!”
  4. From time to time, use snail mail! Yes, OMG, send a handwritten letter or a card.  It’s so “old school” and it’s almost guaranteed that someone will read it.

Next week I will share more tips.

Hold that Door! Ivan’s 5 Rules for an Elevator Pitch

I used to hate the expression: “Elevator Pitch” − it just drove me crazy. But everybody is using it all over the world, so I now give up − I’m going to go with it!

id-10074213The expression developed from the idea of literally being in an elevator with only one minute or less to say who you are and what you do. What would you say? I want you to keep in mind that your elevator pitch is not a sales pitch . . . it is a creative and succinct way to share who you are and what you do that generates interest in the listener.

With that in mind, here are Ivan’s 5 rules for an engaging Elevator Pitch:

 

1) Don’t do your pitch in an elevator! The elevator pitch is meant to be taken out of the elevator and into the real world. And, although you must practice it carefully to be able to present it cohesively and professionally, you also need to be natural. You want to rehearse not sounding rehearsed, if you know what I mean. I’m sure you’ve all seen people who, when they do theirs, you can almost envision them as being back in that elevator: you just press a button, and they are off! You want to avoid sounding staged and canned.

2) K.I.S.S. Keep it simple. Don’t try to explain everything you do in the short amount of time allotted. It will either be too much information or be too vague to be of any value. By keeping your elevator pitch simple, you have more of a chance to catch the listener’s attention, engage them with your creativity, and create interest in your product or services.

3) Remember your USP? I’ve written about this before. Your Unique Selling Proposition can serve well in your Elevator Pitch. One example of how to craft a pithy USP is to compare a bland, general statement such as “I’m a coach and consultant” to saying instead “I help people work less, make more, and create referrals for life.”  This is short, powerful, and informative − the perfect combination for an effective Elevator Pitch.

4) When crafting your Elevator Pitch, consider starting out with precisely how your listener will benefit from your product or service. My good friend, Andy Bounds, calls this the “Afters.” For your Elevator Pitch, this could be something as simple as, “I help people [                 ].” You fill in the blank: increase their sales by 33%, improve their closing ratio to 80%, or double the number of new clients they take on per month, whatever your “After” may be.

5) Pass the eyebrow test. Another good friend, Sam Horn, author of Tongue Fu and Pop!, writes about the eyebrow test. If what you say in your Elevator Pitch causes your listener’s eyebrows to go up, you’ve got ’em! By doing this, you literally will leave the listener wanting more, and that’s precisely what you want your Elevator Pitch to do.

Keeping these 5 rules in mind when you create your Elevator Pitch will set you apart from the crowd. It’s time to press “Doors Open” and step on out of the elevator. Enjoy!

How to Become a Charismatic Introvert

ID-10066405I am a natural introvert. I know, I know. Shocking. It can be hard to believe that I might be a bit shy, considering how many dozens of times a year I get up in front of audiences and speak on a variety of topics. However, even an introvert is able to muster up some charisma and get in front of a crowd. To build up your own charisma, here are a couple tips you can try.

First things first, develop some interests. Read the news, listen to the radio, travel, watch speeches done by people you consider charismatic or by people who are leaders in your field. It is generally easy for people to talk about things that they find interesting, or things that they know about.

Another great way to build up some charisma is to go into your conversations with a positive attitude. Nobody wants to talk to a Debby Downer. Plus, if you act happier, you may even trick yourself into feeling happier.

Talking with hand gestures can actually help you feel more confident, as well, and come across in your charisma. The catch here is don’t overdo this, as it can quickly spiral out of control and cause you to seem a little scattered and off-putting.

Finally, your body language can do a lot when it comes to your charisma. Are your shoulders tense and bunched up toward your neck? Are your knees locked while you’re standing? Are you figditing? These are very obvious signs of being uncomfortable. Consciously work to control these, and you may just see your confidence and charisma skyrocket.

What steps do you take to build up confidence when speaking in front of strangers or large groups? Share your tips in the comments section below!

8 Networking Tips to Ensure You Are Approachable

Scott Ginsberg

Scott Ginsberg

Scott Ginsberg, author of The Power of Approachability, has spent a lot of time researching the true meaning of approachability and how it affects our relationships.  You may have heard of Scott.  He’s also known as “the Nametag Guy” (he wears a name tag everywhere he goes).  He’s the author of several books, and he’s a professional speaker who helps people maximize their approachability, become unforgettable, and make names for themselves.

Scott emphasizes that approachability is a two way street.  “It’s both you stepping onto someone else’s front porch, and you inviting someone to step onto your front porch.”  Below are eight tips from Scott (I’ve modified them a little) on how to maximize your approachability.

1) Be Ready to Engage–When you arrive at a meeting, event, party, or anywhere many conversations will take place, prepare yourself.  Be “ready to engage,” with conversation topics, questions, and stories in the back of your mind, ready to go as soon as you meet someone.  This will help you avoid those awkward “How’s the weather?” discussions.

2)  Focus on CPI–“CPI” stands for Common Point of Interest.  It’s an essential element in every conversation and interaction.  Your duty, as you meet new people, or even as you talk with those you already know, is to discover the CPI as soon as possible.  It helps establish a bond between you and others.  It increases your approachability and allows them to feel more comfortable talking with you.

3)  Give Flavored Answers–You’ve heard plenty of “fruitless questions” in your interactions with other people–questions like “How’s it going?” “What’s up?” or “How are you?”  When such questions come up, Scott warns, don’t fall into the conversation-ending trap of responding, “Fine.”  Instead, offer a “flavored answer”: “Amazing!” “Any better and I’d be twins!” or “Everything is beautiful.”  Your conversation partner will instantly change her demeanor, smile, and, most of the time, inquire further to find out what made you answer that way.  Why?  Because nobody expects it.  Not only that, but offering a true response to magnify the way you feel is a perfect way to share yourself, or “make yourself personally available” to others.

4)  Don’t Cross Your Arms at Networking Events–Even if it’s cold, you’re bored, or you’re just tired and don’t want to be there–don’t cross your arms.  It makes you seem defensive, nervous, judgmental, closed-minded, or skeptical.  It’s a simple, subconscious, nonverbal cue that says, “Stay away.”  People see crossed arms, and they drift away.  They don’t want to bother you.  You’re not approachable.  Think about it, would you want to approach someone like that?  Probably not.  So when you feel that urge to fold your arms across your chest like a shield, stop.  Be conscious of its effect.  Then, relax and do something else with your arms and hands.

5)  Give Options for Communication–Your friends, colleagues, customers, and coworkers communicate with you in different ways.  Some will choose face-to-face; some will e-mail; others will call; still others will do a little of everything.  Accommodate them all.  Give people as many ways as you can to contact you.  Make it easy and pleasant.  On your business cards, e-mail signatures, websites, and marketing materials, let people know they can get in touch with you in whatever manner they choose.  Maybe you prefer e-mail, but what matters most is the other person’s comfort and ability to communicate with you effectively.  There’s nothing more annoying to a “phone person” than to discover she can’t get a hold of you unless she e-mails you.

6)  Always Have Business Cards–At one time or another you’ve probably been on either the telling or listening end of a story about a successful, serendipitous business encounter that ended with the phrase “Thank God I had one of my business cards with me that day!”  If you recall saying something like that yourself, great!  You’re practicing approachability by being easy to reach.   If not, you’ve no doubt missed out on valuable relationships to get their supply reprinted, or change jobs.  Always remember: There is a time and a place for networking–any time and any place!  You just never know whom you might meet.

7)  Conquer Your Fear–Do you ever hear yourself saying, “They won’t say hello back to me.  They won’t be interested in me.  I will make a fool of myself”?  Fear is the number-one reason people don’t start conversations–fear of rejection, fear of inadequacy, fear of looking foolish.  But practice will make this fear fade away.  The more you start conversations, the better you will become at it.  So, be the first to introduce yourself, or simply to say hello.  When you take an active rather than a passive role, you will develop your skills and lower your chances of rejection.

8)  Wear Your Name Tag–I’ve heard every possible excuse not to wear name tags, and all of them can be rebutted: “Name tags look silly.”  Yes, they do.  But remember, everyone else is wearing one too.  “Name tags ruin my clothes.”  Not if you wear them on the edge of your lapel, or use cloth-safe connectors, like lanyards and plastic clips.  “But I already know everybody.”  No, you don’t.  You may think you do, but new people enter and leave businesses and organizations all the time.  “But everyone already knows me.”  No, they don’t.  Even the best networkers know there’s always someone new to meet.  Your name tag is your best friend for several reasons.  First of all, a person’s name is the single piece of personal information most often forgotten–and people are less likely to approach you if they don’t know (or have forgotten) your name.  Second, it’s free advertising for you and your company.  Third, name tags encourage people to be friendly and more approachable.

So, what do you think of Scott’s never-leave-home-without-your-name-tag strategy?  Do you have any own tips or tactics for making yourself approachable?  I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

If You’re Only Talking Shop, You’re Selling Yourself Short

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

People often think that networking is all about talking business and exchanging cards, but that’s a definite misconception.

In a networking group, you should talk about more than just business. A referral relationship is more than just, “I do business, you do business, let’s do business.” A much better approach is to find common ground on a personal level, then relate your business to it.

The longer I’ve been involved in networking, the more I’ve seen the power of personal interests in making connections. Networking is about building personal relationships. If you remove the personal from the equation, you limit the amount of business that can happen.

In one networking group I worked with, I introduced an exercise called the GAINS Exchange, in which people share personal and professional information about themselves. Two of the participants in this group had known each other for more than a year but had never done business. During the exercise, they discovered they both coached their sons’ soccer teams. They quickly became close friends and were soon helping each other conduct soccer practices. After a few months, they began referring business to each other–two guys who had barely spoken to each other the first year because they seemed to have so little in common.

By finding a common interest and starting with that, we can make connections that have a very good chance of turning into business. Try this strategy out for a while and then come back and leave a comment to let me know what your experiences have been–I’d love to hear about them!

Introducing Yourself at Networking Events–Top Tips for Overcoming Anxiety

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If the thought of giving a brief introduction of yourself and your business at networking meetings makes your palms sweat, read on . . .

When participating, even as a guest, in various networking meetings or functions, the fact is that you will be required to introduce yourself sooner or later.  Preparing a script for introducing yourself will improve your results.  One of your scripts should be an overview of what you do.  Other presentations can address various aspects of your product or service.  Here’s the script sequence I recommend:

  • Your name
  • Your business or profession
  • Brief description of your business or profession
  • Benefit statement of one of your products or services
  • Your name again

Your name and your business profession are easy enough.  A brief description and a benefit statement can be separate items,  but more often they are intertwined in your message.  It’s fairly easy to combine your business with the benefits of your product or service.  I suggest telling people what you do, as well as what you are:

“I’m a financial planner and I help people plan for their future” or “I’m an advertising and marketing consultant; I help companies get the most out of their advertising dollar.”  These explanations are more effective than saying, “I do financial planning,” or “I plan advertising campaigns.”

In many situations, you’ll be introducing yourself to only one or two people at a time.  Some networking organizations have all the members stand at each meeting, and in round-robin fashion, give a one-minute overview to the entire group.  If you’re a member of a group like this, it is vitally important to vary your presentations.

Many people who are in networking groups that meet every week have a tendency to say the same old thing, time after time.  From what I’ve seen, many weekly presentations are done weakly.  If you don’t vary your presentations, many people will tune you out when you speak because they’ve already heard your message several times.  Your best bet is to give a brief overview, then concentrate on just one element of your business for the rest of your presentation.

If you prepare your brief introduction using these techniques, you will begin to get much more confident at introducing yourself and, what’s better, you’ll begin to get better networking results.  If you try introducing yourself in this way at your next networking meeting or function,

I’d love to hear how it turns out for you–please come back and share your experience in the comment forum below.  Or, if you’ve already done some things to help you with this issue – please share your tactics with us.  Thanks!

In-Person Spamming

At a recent Referral Institute®  conference in San Francisco, one of the organization’s top trainers, Tiffanie Kellog, took a few moments  to chat with me about the concept of in-person spamming. If you’ve ever encountered people who use networking as a face-to-face cold calling opportunity, so to speak, then you’ve been the subject of in-person spamming.

Watch the video now to learn why Tiffanie sometimes compares networking to speed dating and to get our combined take on the real point of networking, where people tend to go wrong in their networking approach, and how to know when it’s appropriate or inappropriate to give another person your business card.

If you’ve had an experience with in-person spamming, please share your story in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Is It Appropriate to Network Anywhere–Even at a Funeral?

In this video, ask you to consider whether or not you think it’s appropriate to network anywhere, any time, any place . . . even at a funeral.

What do you think? Do you think networking at a funeral is a good idea?  Chances are, most people reading this will answer with something along the lines of, “Heck no!  Passing out business cards at a funeral would be completely inappropriate–not to mention offensive”

Though I certainly agree that passing out business cards at a funeral would likely be one of the worst networking faux pas one could make, I am not necessarily in agreement that it would be inappropriate to network at a funeral.

What do I mean by this?  Well, you’ll have to watch the video to find out but I will tell you that you very well may change your thoughts on the appropriateness of networking absolutely anywhere after you hear the personal story I share about networking at a church function.

Do you have any stories, thoughts, or experiences relating to forming significant networking connections in places that at first seemed to be inappropriate networking venues?  If so, I’d really like to hear what you have to say.  Please leave a comment in the discussion forum below.   Thanks!

 

I Don’t Need Your Card

Imagine handing your card to someone at a networking event and having it handed back to you with “I don’t need it.”  Well, that’s exactly what happened to Juan Vides recently.  Juan found this pretty insulting, and he wrote to me to ask how I thought someone should respond in this situation.

Business Card

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

First, let me talk about giving and getting business cards.

  • A business card is a tacit invitation to make a future connection.  How you handle that connection afterward will determine how responsive your new contact will be.  So be respectful with what you do after someone gives you their card.
  • You should always have plenty of business cards with you.  It still amazes me that people go to networking events and knowingly don’t bring cards with them.  I recently read a blog where many people said they didn’t bring cards so that they wouldn’t get spammed by people they meet.  Really?  Have they never heard of a spam filter?  I use it regularly with unwanted spam.  Besides, that argument is like saying I don’t want to advertise because someone might read the ad and cold call me?  What kind of logic is that?  Buck-up, dandelion, bring cards.  It is a “networking” event!
  • The ideal scenario is to have a meaningful (even if brief) conversation with someone where they ask for your business card (how to do that is an entirely different blog).  However, that doesn’t always happen.  When it doesn’t, it is still ok to offer your business card to someone.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Refusing to take someone’s offered card is just plain bad form and it’s probably too late to send them back to Mom for retraining on how to play with the other kids in the sandbox. 

So what do you do if this happens to you?  Pick the correct choice below:

  1. Squash a cupcake on their nose and say “take that, you dandelion.”
  2. Say “Really, you [bad word, bad word] dirty [bad word], I hope I never see you again at one of these events.
  3. Let’s go outside and finish this (like someone I actually know did at a networking event!)? or
  4. Realize that some people just have little or no people skills and move on to someone who does.

The correct answer is number four however, for the record, I kind of like number one a lot. 

Business Card Exchange: Top Tips for Making an Impact

In this video, Sandra Hart, one of Ireland’s top networkers (who also happens to be a good friend of mine), talks to me about her view on why business cards are of the utmost importance as a networking tool and how to use them for maximum impact.

The fact is, passing out your business card does absolutely no good if you haven’t made an impact on the person you’re passing it to–it’s just going to end up in the recycle bin.  So, how do you increase your odds of making an impression and having others hold on to your card?  Well, you can start by watching this video.  Sandra offers some really great tactics for making an impact when handing your card to someone so they will remember you and look forward to your follow up.

After watching the video, I’d love to hear what you think of Sandra’s tips on what to do and what not to do when passing your business card out at networking events or exchanging cards with new contacts you meet in day-to-day situations.  Do you have any additional dos and dont’s to share that you have learned in your networking experience?  Please let us know your thoughts.  Thanks!

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