Have you finished reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” yet?
You might want to make it a plan to study the second section of that book, “Six Ways to Make People Like You”, on a weekly basis until it is firmly engrained in your personality and becomes your normal way of dealing with people.
First, the rules:
- The objective is to make a new friend and find out all you can about him/her.
- You are the only one who knows you are “playing”. Think of it as sort of a solitaire came without the cards.
- You cannot talk about yourself.
- NO electronics allowed! No Facebook, Skype, email, twitter, or anything like that. You can’t hide behind your monitor or play with your nose stuck in your smartphone.
- This is a face to face game.
Here’s how to play:
Go to your favorite shopping mall or department store where you can find lots of partners for your game. You can talk to other shoppers, if you like, or you can talk to some of the clerks working in the stores, depending on your comfort with talking to strangers.
Yes, strangers. I know your Mom taught you to never talk with strangers, but you should have enough common sense by now to realize that most strangers are simply friends you haven’t met yet. We’re going to fix that. Do be smart enough to avoid weirdos, gang-bangers, and the like.
Not quite ready to reach out to strange shoppers? That’s where the store clerks come in. They have to be nice to you.
OK – I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek and joking around a bit here.
Really, all you have to do is start a conversation with someone. Learn all you can about that person and, most importantly, learn to let the other person talk the most. Way too often, we try to out-brag the other person. Guys are especially prone to this.
Your objective is to learn how to discreetly ask questions and learn about the other person. Remember to start with a smile! (What are the other 5 things Carnegie taught you?)
Give the other person positive feedback – “that is fascinating” – “wow, I never knew that” – “really?” and similar phrases. Encourage them to brag. They’ll love you for it.
If they ask what you do, give a short, simple answer. If you have just started selling insurance, for example, tell them that you “help parents provide security and safety for their families” instead of “I work for the Mega International Financial Service Company and we have great prices on our whole life, term, and annuity products! Can I give you a quote?” You really don’t want to barf on them like that. Remember, you’re there to encourage them to talk to you. Besides, they don’t really care about what you do. They’re just being polite.
When you’ve finished your conversation, take a minute by yourself and review how things went.
- Does it feel like the other person likes you?
- How are your nerves?
- Who talked the most?
- What do you know about that, person, now?
- Was it a pleasant experience?
- Why not?
- Did you SMILE?
- How much fear have you eliminated from your mind?
Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t try to persuade yourself that you walk on water. Both of those assessments are bogus. Pick one thing you think you can do better and go start a conversation with your next new friend-to-be.
Repeat at least ten times… or more. When you’re comfortable talking to strangers, the rest of prospecting is a piece of cake.
Let me know how things go for you.
John Gilger is a Business Development Coach with over 40 years of experience as a systems engineer, leader, and trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com or 702.527.8508 (voice or text)
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