When you join a direct sales or network marketing business, typically your upline teaches you the tools of the trade, such as how to set up a website and make a list of prospects to contact. These are concrete tools you can check off a list, because they are easy to learn and duplicate.

There are other tools which, while just as critical to your success, are more complex and harder to master. One of these is the language you’ll need to use to communicate effectively with prospects, representatives and hosts.

As a networker, your most important task is building relationships. You do this through conversation. The best way to build a strong, positive relationship with another person is through supportive communication, which makes others feel important and heard.

Over the years, many leaders have asked me, “Give my team the words to say.” To answer this need I developed training materials and came up with scripts anyone can implement immediately to communicate more effectively.

While I believe in scripting and specific language, I also realize the importance of cultivating the right mindset: you have to learn to make the interaction about the other person—which for most of us is easier said than done.

Whether we like to admit it or not, it is human nature to think mostly about ourselves. Especially if you’re enthusiastic about your company and its products and all it has done for you, it’s natural to want to share your perspective. The problem is, your prospects want the conversation to be about them!

Shift Your Focus to the Other Person

Suppose you want to invite a friend or acquaintance to learn more about your opportunity. The logical question to ask is, “Can I tell you a little about my business?” Or, if you’re working within a party plan structure and want to invite your guests to host an event for you, you might ask, “Would you like to book a party with me?”

Now, ask yourself: who are these questions about? Right: they’re about you. They don’t give your prospect or host any indication that their needs or desires matter. Without your realizing it, your invitation almost guarantees that your prospects will say “no,” because there’s nothing in it for them.

Most people don’t truly listen when in conversation. They may nod their heads and seem as though they’re attentive, but in truth they are waiting for their turn to talk, because deep down we believe that what we have to share is more interesting than what the other person is saying. Of course, we know it’s impolite to do all the talking, so in most conversations, we pause now and then to let the other person say something as well.

One of the tools I teach is heart-centered listening: you focus intently on what the other person is sharing, and for a limited time, forget about yourself. If you practice this kind of listening, you may learn some important information about the person you’re talking to that could be helpful when the conversation eventually shifts to the topic of your opportunity or the possibility of booking an event.

So why not focus the conversation on the other person? Shift your attention to genuine curiosity and away from asking for anything. If you’re curious, you’re bound to ask questions, which will lead others to share about themselves—while giving you a chance to practice and demonstrate your newly acquired listening skills.

Here are a few tips for making this shift:

Here is some phraseology you can use:

I have to acknowledge you for how well you’ve been handling your (daycare/job/financial) situation. I really don’t know if I’d have been able to manage it the way you have. I’ve been thinking about you a lot and I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee and share with you what I love about what I do.

I can’t believe how much you added to the party tonight! I’d love to have you as one of my June hosts. You are so playful and fun. And based on our earlier conversation, it sounds like you need a break! Let’s look at our schedules and see when we can get together.

You are one of the most outgoing people I’ve ever met and I know you’ve been struggling financially. I think you would be great at what I do. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about doing anything like this, but I’d love to sit down and just share with you how this business has changed my life.

Look at your wish list! You love my products. I don’t want you to have to pay for all of these. Tell you what, let’s set up a party so you can get a ton of these for free. Should we look at April or May?

The common element in all these examples is that the focus is on the other person. Whether you use my words or your own, when you shift your thinking to that perspective, you’ll find that, magically, you begin to receive everything you need.

Becoming aware of your language and learning to use words that communicate your interest and care for the other person is an essential tool to add to your toolbox as a professional networker or direct seller. Once your prospects feel heard and acknowledged, they will naturally want to reciprocate and see what they can do to support you in building your business.

JULIE ANNE JONES is a sought after direct sales
consultant, speaker and coach, and the author of many
direct sales learning programs, including the e-book
and audio book
Powerful Language to Explode Your
Direct Sales Business: 12 Scripts Tell You Exactly
What to Say to Get the Booking, Sales and
Sponsoring Results You’ve Always Dreamed of.