If you knew that I like hula hooping, birding, hiking and have a niece and nephew, ages 8 and 5… as well as you and I have 5 people in common on LinkedIn… all that would lead to a different conversation than, “Hi, what do you do?” (Uh, that question makes me cringe.)
I bet we would have a whole NEW kind of conversation! Those are the talks I like.
When I know I’m heading into a meeting with people I haven’t met or get on the phone with a new client – I like to do a little background research.
The goal of this research is to find some common ground to connect on initially that makes the relationship warmer from the very beginning.
When you start with a commonality, you’ll never get stuck in that awkward moment of silence again.
It’s easy to avoid those uncomfortable moments, by going back to the area of commonality to keep the conversation rolling.
People love talking about what they’re passionate about. If you can find something that you also care about, you’ll build genuine rapport that creates the foundation to a lasting relationship.
By doing some research, you can find out that you have a mutual friend or like to vacation in similar places. (It can be anything: sports, cooking, books, crafts, pets, kids… you get the point. Remember to keep it positive, ie topics you’d like to talk about.)
Besides the obvious ways of researching (ie Googling someone’s name), I look for people on both LinkedIn and Facebook. That gives me both sides of what they’re willing to share; LinkedIn is the professional resume plus Facebook’s personal, outgoing, opinionated version of them.
FYI: I also have an app on my phone called Brewster (www.Brewster.com) that goes out and searches all the social networks that your personal contacts are listed on. I know, it’s a little scary, but all of that data exists online. So, this app searches, finds and organizes their info, including profile pictures and blog posts. *** You could check it out, just to see what it can find about you!
Regardless of how you do your research, when you spend time learning about the people you want to connect with, you’ll gain insight into who they really are. And you’ll actually get to enjoy a conversation worth having.
PS I’ll be at a software conference in Phoenix, Arizona this week, learning how to improve my business from the techie side. If you’re interrsted, click here, and I’ll be sure to share the insights I pick up while I’m here. This page will give you a free demo, think of it as show & tell!