Carrying a Conversation

Business networking is not about seeking referrals but about building relationships. It is evident that it takes time to build a relationship but to build a meaningful relationship you need to have a deeper rapport, which in turn requires frequent conversations.

The first thing then is to go past the initial introduction when you meet someone for the first time. A meeting can get stalled once the pleasantries have been exchanged and each one is seeking a thread to continue the conversation. It is in times like these that I feel my experience can be of help to you, and I share a few topics of conversation that can lead to a much longer and animated interaction. Dale Carnegie in his masterpiece — “How to influence people and win friends”, repeatedly reiterates the need to be a good listener. I need to add here that you also need a good topic of conversation to make the task of listening lighter and make the exchange of words build a deeper rapport.

Here’s my list of 10 topics of discussions to spark a conversation.

  • What made you start on your own?
  • What is the first thing you bought with your own money?
  • What was your most famous moment?
  • What’s the best advice you ever followed?
  • What’s the one fear you want to overcome?
  • What is the one decision in life you want to revisit?
  • Who is the most famous person you met?
  • What is that you own that you will never sell?
  • Where do you want to travel next?
  • What about your children make you proud?

These are my suggestions and feel free to improvise as long as you address the basic tenets on which these questions are based on. You have to give them an opportunity to speak about something that relates to their past, and more importantly to their future. The conversation should make them reminisce about the good things of life, feel proud of their achievements, get appreciation and stay hopeful.

It would help if you mentally prepared yourself with your own answers to these questions in case you were asked to respond to the questions as well. And do not commit the cardinal sin of offering your answer before getting the response from the person you posed your question to.