by Josh Millar
Whether you’re talking with prospective clients, a new business partner, or your coworkers, business conversations are full of potential. If we have strong communication and conversational skills, we can harness that potential and maximize the interactions. On the other hand, subpar conversations can lead to countless missed opportunities. If you want to bring the value of your conversations up a notch, here are some things to consider:
The best way to lay a strong foundation for any conversation is to make the other person feel valued and heard, and the best way to do that is to show your interest. Ask questions, stay focused, and genuinely listen to their responses. Create space for the other person to share. At the very least, you’ll make a good impression on them. More likely, you’ll wind up with valuable information you may have otherwise missed out on.
Whether we’re hoping to earn a prospect’s business or wanting to team up with a referral partner to grow our business, it’s important that we focus the conversation on what we can offer, not what we hope to gain. I’m not suggesting trying to conceal your motivations, as transparency is an important element of clear communication, but it’s really about where the focus of the conversation lies. Of course, you’d like to turn that prospect into a client, but that alone isn’t going to earn you their business. Talk about your experience, why you’re passionate about your work, and be generous with sharing pieces of advice.
Learn Something New
Not all conversations have a clear goal. Sometimes, we’re simply collaborating with a coworker or touching base with our business partner. As I mentioned before, demonstrating interest can have a powerful effect on your conversation partner, but it goes beyond that. When you’re inquisitive, you learn more. Anything from book recommendations to new marketing strategies to solutions to challenging problems. In any conversation, see if you can walk away with a new piece of information.
Conversations are about connecting with another person. Even in the business world, emotions play a role in communication. Empathizing and tuning into how the other person feels, for example, is something all great communicators do. Calculated, cold conversations rarely deliver the best results, especially if you’re hoping to build the relationship. Instead, being open and engaging is how you create that foundation level of trust. From there, more productive and honest conversation can take place.
Keep a Conversation Open
When you’re working on growing your network and strengthening your connections, learning to keep a conversation open is essential. You might be at a networking event or talking to a prospect. You don’t come to any conclusions in your conversation, but perhaps you talked about future possibilities. A great way to close these conversations is with the mention of a follow-up. Let them know that you’ll reach back out — and do. Even if it was just an interesting conversation with no outlook to the future, to develop that connection, How can we maximize the full potential of our conversations?don’t drop the conversation there. Is there a relevant email you could send down the line, asking a question or sharing something useful? Reinforcing connections in this way is an important strategy to strengthen your network.
How can we maximize the full potential of our conversations? When you start looking at conversations in this way, you tend to start putting in a bit more effort to make them fruitful. Realizing that conversation is the main currency of connection and using that to establish a more valuable network is powerful. Do you have any other tips for better business conversations? Please share them.