Have you ever been meeting with a friend, business colleague or prospective client and suddenly found yourself not knowing what to say next? You know that lull in your conversation which comes after you’ve exchanged the customary “How’s the family? What have you been up to?” pleasantries. That silence can be the kiss of death when you are trying to create, develop and build a relationship with someone.
So how do you avoid it?
Well you need to be forward thinking. Have a plan before you show up to meet with someone (or should I asy, everyone?). Think up a couple of topics that you know that you can pull out, dust off and throw out there to help drive the conversation forward. Perhaps something that interests the other person such as a hobby, their kids, their new job. Have at least two or three pocket topics and/or questions at the ready so that if the conversation does lull at any point, you can get it back on track.
One thing you can do is to be proactive with the people you will be meeting with. Now I am not suggesting you become a stalker or anything but there are several ways to keep “plugged in” to what people are up to in both their personal and professional lives.
For example, do they Tweet? Are you friends with them on Facebook? Are you both on LinkedIn? What have they been talking about or posting in the weeks leading up to your meeting? Those posts become great conversations starters. If they are a client or a potential client, a quick Google search about their company or a quick review of their latest press releases or website can give you tons of intel about what’s going on in “their world”. It’s amazing at how a simple mention of something relevant to them can seamlessly drive the conversation. Not to mention. gain you some valuable points in the relationship building department as well.
The point is to have a plan prior to meeting up with someone. Take a few minutes to think up some topics you want to cover together. Think of new things you want to learn about the person and use it to help guide your conversation. Not only will you feel more at ease because the pressure of uncomfortable silence won’t be an issue. But the other person will be impressed that you spent a little time preparing and getting up-to-date on them. These small efforts will make them feel special and undoubtedly create big Ripples in your growing relationship.
Just some food for thought. I’ve done this for years and that’s why my conversations rarely, if ever, have those uncomfortable lulls. That or I just talk a lot (wink)!