I think you’ll agree with me when I say sales begin with conversations. Because if you’re not making conversations, you’re not building relationships, and you’re not closing deals. That’s why being able to start and continue conversations is so important.
Your success depends on them!
But if you’re like most people, you shy away from starting conversations. But don’t let limiting beliefs stand in the way of your success. With practice and a little know-how, you’ll have the gift of gab in no time.
Here are seven authentic ways to start better conversations with anyone.
Pay a compliment
Realtor Tasha Nelson only has one way of starting a conversation. “I always start with a compliment, she explains. “Compliments are like handwritten letters. We don't do them anymore, and when we do, it's rare.”
Compliments are great conversation starters because it’s hard not to warm up to someone who flatters you. It’s a total feel-good situation. And that’s why being specific and sincere is of the utmost importance.
Notice something you like and mention it. Maybe a speaker gave a great presentation, an audience member asked a great question, or the friend of a colleague wrote a fantastic blog post. Let your admiration flag fly!
When in doubt, safe bets are mentioning hairstyles, clothing, and accessories. Complimenting physical attributes can get a little weird, so don’t go there. Or look there. Just saying.
There’s no better way to start a conversation than by lending a helping hand. Keep a lookout for ways to serve others—Assist with a coat, open a door, give up your seat on mass transit, hold the elevator, carry groceries, etc.—and you’ll start numerous conversations just because you’re a nice person. And these days, being nice carries more weight than ever.
“I eavesdrop all the time!” enthuses Realtor Lexi Koyle. “Anyone who is in the business knows what I mean by this. If I hear someone near me talking about real estate,” she says, “I usually wait for the right moment and then step in and say ‘Well I happened to overhear your conversation and I am a Realtor, maybe I could be of assistance…’”
Smoothly joining a conversation is an excellent social skill. Before you jump in, be sure to listen for your cue—like a topic you’re passionate about—make eye contact and show your interest in what’s being said. Wait for a natural break in the conversation and politely enter the discussion. Be sure to show interest in what others are saying and be sure to ask open-ended questions to engage the group and be included in the further conversation.
Ask for an opinion
It feels good when our opinions matter to others. Asking for someone’s opinion shows you’re interested in them and what they think. And they’re almost always happy to share their point of view.
A good rule of thumb is to stick to topics that are immediately relevant. For example, if you’re at a conference, you might ask your seatmate “What did you think of the presentation?” That makes much more sense than asking their opinion of the 2020 elections. Awkward.
And when you begin a convo by asking for an opinion, you’ll probably be asked to share yours too. Keep your answer positive. Being negative is a real conversation killer.
“I wear my name tag everywhere,” offers Lexi. “Trust me; it starts the conversations for me.”
Name tags are great icebreakers. Be sure to wear your badge high on your right shoulder, so it’s in better view of your name and face when you shake hands with someone new. Another pro tip: Write your first name bigger than your last name. Or better yet, write something you’re interested in—like real estate—and let the conversation flow!
Notice something pleasant
Confident people are like magnets. Noticing something pleasant and commenting on it is a sure-fire conversation starter. For example, if you’re at an event, you might comment on what a great job the organizer did. Or how beautiful the floral arrangements are. It demonstrates that you’re observant and gracious, and opens the door for others to chime in.
Ask a question
Realtor Amanda Searle isn’t a fan of starting conversations, but she enjoys asking other people questions. She likes “asking them something about themselves and seeing where my curiosity takes me with that.”
It’s not rocket science. Asking something as simple as “What’s your favorite neighborhood?” might be enough to break the ice.
And sometimes, the questions almost ask themselves. “If I'm ever talking with someone and they mention anything about renting, explains Lexi, “I love to ask if they've looked into buying because it can be cheaper than renting a lot of the time.”
It’s human nature to answer questions, so once you get someone engaged, it’s easy to keep the conversation going.
What is your favorite way to start a conversation? Have you tried any of the tips above? Please share your experience in the comment section below.