By Bryce Sanders
Reprinted from the January 2013 edition of InsuranceNewsNet magazine.
“Wow! I would really like to meet that person but I don’t know what to say!” From time to time, we see people we would like to befriend, cultivate or just meet. Some are easy. It gets difficult when there’s a wealth gap or when our motives seem obvious – such as when the supermodel walks into the singles bar.
This three-article series will examine seven scenarios. The first of the three parts will focus on starting the conversation. Then, how to keep the conversation going. Finally, how do you wrap up and lay the groundwork for seeing them again?
It’s easy to start conversations with the guy at the next desk. How about these scenarios:
Conversation is an art. One-size strategy doesn’t fit everyone. It’s human nature to prejudge. Here’s what’s probably going on in the background. They are:
· Wary – Does this person want to profit at my expense?
· Weary – I’ve heard every pick-up line. Which will they use?
· Wise – They can think several steps ahead. They won’t be fooled.
Engaging everyone with respect and dignity is important. You establish your standing by how you engage with others, especially in the initial conversation.
You see this person and want to meet him or her. Before we engage the person in conversation we need to get onto the radar screen. How are we going to do that?
Your golf bag now has an assortment of clubs. Which ones are suitable for which scenarios?
1. The Big Fish – One successful person is meeting another. The introduction or friend in common is ideal. No connections? Try the compliment, ideally about news connected to the firm they run or their achievements in the community.
How Does This Sound? (Friend in Common) “Mr. Smith, I’m (name). I believe we have a friend in common. It’s Frank Waters. …”
2. The Stunner –This isn’t business, it’s romance. Compliments are good but, obviously, avoid body parts. The Neutral Question or The Event-Related Observation can get the conversation started. The Waiting Game can work also unless a bolder competitor sits on their other side.
How Does This Sound? (Neutral Question + Event-Related Observation) “Excuse me, is this seat taken? Thanks. I really enjoy coming to the Chamber’s Taste of the City each year. Have you tried the grilled shrimp? I have an extra one here. …”
3. The Casualty –A friend has fallen on hard times. You are a peer. The Information Request positions you as equals. The Neutral Question is similar. The Volunteered Observation could work.
How Does This Sound? (Neutral Question) “Charlie, I’m so glad to see you. I haven’t been downtown for months and forgot about the construction. Do you know how to get to the freeway from here? I really appreciate the help. …”
4. The College Roommate –They’ve hit it big. You didn’t stay in touch. In fairness, neither did they. You are on an equal social footing. The Shared Memory can refresh common bonds. The Event-Related Observation gets you talking. Both The Insightful Question and The Compliment give them the opportunity to talk about their successes.
How Does This Sound? (Shared Memory) “The chemistry building. Remember those sleepless nights we would spend cramming for exams? I still get a chill every time I see those classrooms. …”
5. The Service Provider –You’ve seen each other for years but don’t know each other. The Waiting Game hasn’t worked! The Volunteered Observation, The Request for Information and The Shared Memory put you on equal footing.
How Does This Sound? (Information Request) “Charlie, we’ve known each other for years. I was wondering if you could give me some advice. Our ride-on mower has finally given out. What’s the best place to get another, someplace that provides good service if you ever need it?”
6. The Sideline Parent –You both want to provide for your children. You may not know each other, but your children might! The Friend in Common can reference flattering observations your child has made about their child. You might utilize The Compliment to recognize their child’s sports performance. The Volunteered Observation can draw them out about where they live.
How Does This Sound? (Compliment) “You are Timmy’s parents, aren’t you? Our son Charlie told us the greatest story about this incredible shot Timmy made at basketball practice. You’ve got a real star there. You must be very proud. …”
7. The Extremist –You know their views and they aren’t your own! People are rarely focused on one issue. There should be common ground somewhere. The Shared Memory can draw them out about the local area. The Insightful Question can get them talking about an issue of your choosing.
How Does This Sound? (Insightful Question) “Phil, I would like to ask your opinion. You’ve always been a strong supporter of limited federal government. I’m concerned about school taxes on the local level. They’re talking about building a new middle school. What’s wrong with the old one. …?”
Next Article –You’ve got them talking! How do you keep the conversation going, gather information and position yourself as a person they want to know?
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions in New Hope, PA. His book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on Amazon.com. Contact Bryce at Bryce.Sanders@innfeedback.com.
INN WANTS TO KNOW – How do you reach difficult prospects? How do you introduce yourself to someone you want to meet? How do you get the conversation started? Join the discussion in the InsuranceNewsNet.com LinkedIn group. The best suggestions we receive may be published in a future issue of INN.
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