Showing posts with label first impressions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label first impressions. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Do You Say After “Hello” at a Networking Event or Even on an Airplane?

Don Gabor, What Do You Say After Hello at a Networking Event?

The room is packed and the business cards are flying. Before you stands a potential client who fits perfectly into all of your target demographics. Knowing what to say after “Hello” to this person might make the difference between earning some valuable business and merely accumulating another business card.

The good news is that there are potential conversations all around you--if you are willing to take the risk and start the conversation. For example, if you are at a business networking event and happen to be near the food table you can ask “How’s that guacamole?” Or, if you are looking at the speaker’s promo materials you can ask, “What brought you to the event?” Working your way out from the food to the speaker to anything in the room is fair game for conversation.

Another useful technique for keeping a conversation interesting and fresh is the smart use of ritual questions. A ritual question is a commonly-asked question that is typically easy to answer like “Where do you live?” They are handy for a couple of reasons:

  • They allow for other topics to be introduced into the conversation.
  • They reveal supporting information about yourself to the other person.
  • Answering ritual questions shows that you are willing to open up to the other person.

When it is your turn to answer a ritual question, consider it an opportunity to show you have a genuine interest in the other person by revealing some information that was not specifically asked about. This extra information is called free information and encourages follow-up questions and additional comments. 

For example, in response to the question “Did you grow up here?” which of the following two responses suggests that the speaker wants to engage with you?

A) “No.” or “Yes. ” or “Why do you want to know?”
B) “No, I grew up in ______________, but I’ve been living and working here for years and loving every minute of it.”

A good conversationalist will choose option B because it not only seems friendlier, but adding free information will give the other person multiple avenues to continue the conversation.

Body language is also a powerful ally to help keep a person engaged after you say hello. In the phrase book of body language, the most important is “eye contact.” If you do not make eye contact with a new acquaintance, it gives off the impression that you are distracted or have something to hide. People also relate to a person’s smile. It doesn’t have to be a big, Hollywood smile, but what I call a gentle smile. Combining a gentle smile with eye contact and a simple nod of the head sends out a signal of approval that what you are hearing is resonating in you in some way--and will keep a conversation going and opportunities flowing.

The chance to make a new connection can come and go in the blink of an eye.

What if a random stranger within earshot of you starts talking about something you are passionate about? Knowing what to say after you say hello will give you the confidence to start conversations with strangers anywhere--even on an airplane! For example, not long ago I was on a flight when I heard two people chatting about a “TED-Talk” they were on their way to see. (TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) After they finished their conversation I followed one of the gentleman back to his seat, tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Hello. Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation a moment ago. Do you mind if I ask you a question about something I heard you say?”

After chatting for about 10 minutes, we exchanged business cards and we both had a new business contact. Knowing what to say after “Hello” gave me the opportunity and confidence to “network at 30,000 feet.” Imagine what your potential could be using these small talk techniques over the course of a few hours at a networking event on terra firma.

Don Gabor
Conversation Arts Media

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Do You Remember the Names of the People You Meet at Networking Events?

5 Seconds to Success: The Art of Remembering Names

"The sweetest sound in any language is a person’s name."
-- Dale Carnegie

9 out of 10 people admit they could use some help remembering people’s names. If you are one of them, the good news is you can master the art of remembering names if you learn a few easy techniques. I’ve taught this method at workshops where people ended up remembering 10, 15, even 20 names -- and the good news is all it takes is five seconds:

00:01 - 00:02 The number one reason people don’t remember names is that they don’t focus on the moment of introduction. When you are being introduced to someone, that person should be the most important person in the room. Don’t let thinking about what you’re going to say next drown out the person you are going to say it to.
00:03 Repeat the person’s name.

  • It shows that you actually heard the person’s name and that makes a person feel good.
  • Repeating the name helps you remember simply through repetition.
  • It confirms that you understood the name correctly.

00:04 Think of somebody you know with the same name. This works 7 out of 10 times because in a room full of people, at least 70% of the names are going to be familiar. It could be a celebrity, a neighbor, member of the family or anyone. For greater success, try to reuse use the same association whenever you meet somebody with a particular name.

00:05  Make an extra effort to focus on the first letter of the person’s name. When meeting several people at once, the first initial is often a good way to hook names together because of the various acronyms and abbreviations in our language. For example, if I meet Dan and Robin, I’ve got D and R. If I simply remember that familiar abbreviation for “doctor,” I will be able to remember Dan and Robin.

Another helpful technique is to make a mental image of the first letter of the person’s name.

Golden Time Remember what Dale Carnegie said and use your new acquaintance's name throughout the conversation - and at the end of the conversation.

Use these tips and you'll see first-hand there is no faster or easier way to make a great first impression than to remember someone’s name. And all it takes is five seconds. 

For more information about having Don speak to your group or at your event please contact him at:

Don Gabor
Conversation Arts Media

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Succeed the First Day on the Job Using Small Talk

Starting a new job is an exciting, but sometimes uncomfortable, experience. Most of your new colleagues will probably be friendly, but some may be less than welcoming or even hostile. Luckily, using small talk, it’s possible to overcome the awkwardness that everyone feels on the first day of a new job. In honor of the Tech and IT crowd, I’ve put together an FAQ on how to troubleshoot your way through your first day on a new job.

What if my new manager forgets to introduce me to my new coworkers?

Introduce yourself to everyone you’ll be working with as soon as you can. If you wait for others to introduce themselves, you’ll send a message that you are not eager to connect or that you lack the confidence to approach people you don't know.  

Sticking to yourself can also give the impression that you’re not friendly. That, by extension, may imply that you will not be a team player. And that, by extension, might mean that people will not be able to depend on you. There are a lot of negative and subtle implications or implied communications that may not be true, but will occur, if you do not take the initiative. So take an active role and be the first to engage your new coworkers.

What if, as soon as my manager leaves, my new colleagues begin to mock him or her, or start “trash talking”?

It’s common that people grouse about their bosses or their company. If you find yourself in that kind of conversation on your first day of work it’s best to remain quiet. You don’t want to open up a can of worms or get into a situation where you can be identified with somebody else’s problem. You could ask why they feel that way if you want to explore it a little bit, but it’s best to move the conversation into a more positive topic or direction by saying something like, “What do you like best about working here?”

What if you are a new manager?

As a manager you’re not going to be everybody’s friend, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be friendly. It’s important to quickly establish an open channel of communication, and that is where small talk plays an important role. It shows you are open and willing to talk to people and interested in getting to know who they are.

Once a manager attains that kind of rapport with an employee, it’s easier to assess the individual and how to best talk to him or her.

What should I do if someone I just met acts unfriendly?

There are some people who appear unfriendly when they are actually just shy. However, some people may be unfriendly because they feel threatened or uncomfortable meeting new coworkers. If a new colleague seems unfriendly, give him or her a little bit of latitude. It may take a little extra time for you to warm to each other.  But if you give people a little bit of room, not making any judgments about them right away, and you respond with friendliness, you might find that that they will be a little bit more open and willing to engage.  

Conversation is an asset that is inside us all. Tap into it to realize its many benefits like making friends — and in this case, starting your first day on the job the right way.

For more information about having Don speak to your group or at your event please contact him at:

Don Gabor