The Five Ways to Open a Conversation with People

by Doug Firebaugh

The Five Ways to Open a Conversation with People

Opening up conversation with people is for many an uncomfortable task. It shouldn’t be. Conversation is the secret to this business, and there are five very easy ways to open up a conversation with someone that you would like to meet.


But I must warn you! Don’t come across like you are “up to something.” People will read right through that. Keep your focus on serving people, helping people solve life problems with your business and products, and simply wanting to meet a friend you have not met yet. These ideas are very basic, but few do them when they are out and about.


Here are the five ways:


1) Compliment them on something they are wearing or carrying.


People like to be noticed, plain and simple. They like to be noticed for what they are displaying about themselves. What they are wearing or carrying tells you a little bit about who they are.


I always start a compliment with a question:


“Would it be okay if I paid you a compliment about something I have noticed about you?”


Or if it’s a guy, “You know, I don’t give out a lot of compliments, but I like that suit you have on. Very professional. Good cut.”


This will set up anticipation, and not come across like you are phony or insincere, which many people do, because they have the wrong intentions when they give a compliment. People will feel good that you noticed!


2) Ask for directions.


I used to do this all the time in malls where I was new in town. I would ask if they knew where I could find a particular store or place to eat. Then I would say, “I am from out of town,” or, “I’m new to this neighborhood,” and ask if they lived around here.


Then I would ask them if they had a family, hobby, etc.


Then I would say, “Maybe you can help me…you may know who I am looking for…”


3) Ask what they do for a living.


One of the most powerful things you can do when networking is ask a person, “What do you do?”


Then ask another question about what they just said. Then ask another question about what they just said…and you will start finding out about them and who they might know who might help you.


“Got a card?” is a great way to extend this conversation into a later time.


4) Carry a book on success or leadership and ask people if they had read it.


Then ask them if they like to read, and whether they read success and leadership books. If they do, discuss the last one they read, and ask them for one they’d recommend. Get them talking about success and ask them if they are a student of success. You will be surprised at the people you meet who are—and who are looking for a new future!


5) Ask for their name after giving yours.


This one is so simple, but few do it.


“Hi, my name is Doug. How are you? I apologize for asking this, what is your name? I have never had the pleasure of meeting you before.”


This is such a simple way to meet people. You even apologize for bothering them for their name, which is a soft way of asking for it, and you almost always get it this way!


Open up as many conversations as you can, and your business will skyrocket!


Here is one final opener: Smile.


Look in their eyes. Nod your head. Stick your hand out to shake theirs. Say “I’m sorry, but I don’t know who you are. My name is Mary, I’m with ABC Company. May I have your name ?”


Open your eyes wide.


And smile!


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