From Quora: How can someone mentally prepare to talk, learn, network with anyone...
This blog post was in response to a question posed on Quora. "How can someone mentally prepare to talk, learn, network with anyone given a short period of time? (as if he or she were highly knowledgeable/successful)"
There are a few simple yet important ways to be remembered as knowledgeable or successful in a conversation in just a short period of time.
A cautionary note: one of the worst things we can do is to cram a whole bunch of information into our head to appear knowledgeable and impress someone in a conversation. This will backfire just like it does when taking a test. We’ll look shallow, forget the information we already know that really makes us interesting, and the conversation will die a quick death.
Instead, try these essential tips to talk, learn, and network with anyone (with a TedTalk, blog posts, podcast, and even an app as additional resources).
LEARN something new. In any conversation, focus intensely on learning something new about your conversation partner. According to research, people want to talk about themselves and we associate these conversations with positive memories, including positive thoughts about our conversation partner. By trying to learn something new about another person, you’ll need to ask questions that will let your partner talk more about themselves. In doing so, you’ll both have a positive experience and, as a result, you’ll be remembered as thoughtful and interesting.
Be GENUINE. If you’re honest during a conversation – even if it means admitting you’re not well-versed in a particular subject – it will work in your favor. Insincerity can be sniffed out a mile away. If you try to come off as more knowledgeable than you are, your partner will realize it and assume you’re up to something. If, on the other hand, you’re sincere about your level of expertise but open to learning more, your partner will be more receptive and inclined to share their expertise. You’ll come off as the kind of person they want to stay in touch with.
DO NOT overthink it. There is way too much advice out there about how much eye contact to maintain when you’re talking to someone else, keeping a certain amount of personal space, mimicking the movements and body language of our conversation partner, and saying things like “uh huh” and “yeah” to show you’re interested. Don’t worry about any of these things. Instead, focus ENTIRELY on learning something new about the other person and being genuine (the rest will take care of itself).
Preparation.If you want some more tips about how to have a great conversation, check out this TedTalk (10M+ views) on 10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation by Celeste Headlee. For some more tips, look at these blog posts on how to talk to a complete stranger or how to network in a group setting. A good podcast on these topics is The Art of Charm.
Practice.Like anything in life, the more practice we have, the better we perform. If you’re looking to practice your conversation skills without any strings attached in a short period of time, try a conversation on Convers8 and talk to someone for free right now.
Good luck out there!