Get people to talk about themselves by asking them questions. People love to talk about themselves and they will feel they have built a good relationship with you even if they haven’t found out that much about you yet.
People also feel good when they help others, so ask them to help you. The more specific you can be, the easier it is for them to do so. For example, start with the phrase: ‘Please can you help me – do you know anyone who is an expert in…, can advise me about…, knows who can…, knows about…,’ or: ‘Can tell me where I can find…’ or ‘If you were me how would you…’
Bill Docherty of Persuasion teaches that when developing presentations or when out networking, the structure of ‘past’ ‘present’ and ‘future’ can be followed for topics to be talked about. As we’ve just mentioned, the best way to build relationships is to ask people questions and show a genuine interest in them. If you cannot think of what to ask, then thinking of the ‘past’ ‘present’ and ‘future’ scenario will help you. You could ask questions about their past, such as ‘Have you always worked where you are now?’ ‘Who did you work for before and what was it like there?’ Then you can ask questions about their current role and also about their thoughts and plans for their future.
In the UK it is common to talk about the weather. However,if you are in a country which is hot most of the time then this topic may not be so interesting.
If you are at a meeting that people have had to travel to, you could talk about the journey – ‘How did you travel here today?’ ‘Did you find us easily?’ However, a word of warning here – always talk positively, for example: ‘I had plenty of time to read on the way down on the train; it got delayed for half an hour but I knew I was still going to be on time so I enjoyed the extra reading time.’ Compare this with someone telling you that they had had a terrible journey, that they had missed the train they were supposed to get and then when they got on the next one there was nowhere to sit and the train got delayed for half an hour, which they could well have done without and so on and on. No one wants to hear a tale of woe or listen to someone moaning – the impression you give when meeting for the first time will stick and people like to spend time with happy, positive people.
Talk about your job: what it is you do and what you enjoy about it.
Talk about holidays and travel. Ask people where they went on their holidays and where they intend to go next, what type of holidays are their favorite and whether they can recommend a good place to go.
Talk about sports – men in particular like talking about sports and cars.
Talk about current affairs and what is in the news or most topical at the moment. This is a good reason to keep up with watching the news on the television and reading newspapers and industry magazines.
Talk about families, although it is advisable not to ask people if they have children as this could be a ‘sore’ point. If they bring the subject up of children then it is fine to talk about it.
If you want to shine in your role, take a look at the training courses we offer at Bingo Traders. Designed specifically for EAs, PAs, Admins, Office Managers,… , these learning opportunities provide the skills and knowledge you’ll need to excel.
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