Last night I was at a special dinner party of business people and entrepreneurs. Everyone had a passion for their business and how they desired to make a significant difference in the lives they touched. Everyone I talked to carried him or herself well, was sincere in their approach and executed their elevator speech flawlessly.
I was so impressed by the first man I met that we continued talking well beyond the cursory five-minute business conversation. Fortunately, this gentleman knew how to find common ground in the conversation and expand his elevator speech into a discussion derived of benefits and captivating ideas that met my interests.
Not only was I impressed with the man, but I also wanted to figure out a way that our paths could cross again through some form of joint venture. The synergy that our two business styles could create was popping through my mind. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the worst-case scenario included me passing his name onto other business acquaintances that might need his services. He had sold me and I felt good about it.
Unfortunately, I had to endure some awkward conversations as well. The men and women were equally impressive, but their inability to take a conversation beyond the introductory elevator speech didn’t exist. For those who did everything right, but weren’t able to take the conversation to the next level, I’d like to share four things the first man did that might be of help.
1. Find Common Ground. During the initial exchange there will be some form of overlap in what people share. This is due to both individuals being business people or entrepreneurs. When you expand on this commonality, you immediately relax the other person and bring the conversation to a memorable level from which to share your ideas.
2. Give Them the WIFM. Everyone receives some form of benefit from time well spent. Sharing or clarifying the other person’s benefit, “What’s in it for Me,” gives the person a small sense of fulfillment, making them feel like their time was well spent. One man shared how his organization makes its donors feel valued and fulfilled, as he generated interest in his services.
3. Dive into Their Interests. The twinkle in the other person’s eye when you mentioned a particular point within the conversation hints of their interest that should be expounded on. If you aren’t able to pick up on their “tells”, then listen carefully to where they desire to take the conversation and support them in it. They will remember you as a great businessperson, even if they end up doing most of the talking.
4. Share the Rest of the Story. Don’t be shy about expanding your story to include additional facets of your business, as long as the other person is showing interest. Pay attention to their questions and respond enthusiastically, making sure they feel good about having inquired. Every question is a good one if asked by someone who is interested in the answer, so take time to elaborate on points that peak their curiosity.
The above ideas should always be shared off-the-cuff and not memorized. Since you know your business so well, share from the depths of your heartfelt passion, not from your head knowledge, as new people you meet will remember the feeling you gave them more than the words you shared.