How to Start a Conversation Anywhere
Byron| January 25th, 2014
SELF-IMPROVEMENT & SUCCESS, CONFIDENCE, DATING & RELATIONSHIPS, BUSINESS/CAREER
SELF-IMPROVEMENT & SUCCESS, CONFIDENCE, DATING & RELATIONSHIPS, BUSINESS/CAREER
The key in starting conversations is taking the pressure off of yourself before you reach out to a new person. The biggest myth about meeting new people is that we must be extremely witty and interesting to hold someone's attention. Not only is this NOT true, but it puts undue stress on you to "perform" and act without authenticity.
Let me break down a variety of environments where you might want to start a conversation with someone else and let me show you the easiest strategies for doing so without pressure.
FLIRTING WITH A WOMAN IN PUBLIC
Jason Aaron Baca
Flirting with a woman in public doesn't have to be a terrifying experience. The truth is that women want you to talk to them! I recommend a straight-forward approach that immediately puts your intention on the table: be direct. If you think a girl is cute, tell her right away. Subconsciously, she knows you find her cute anyways - regardless if you're asking her for the time or the nearest drug store. She knows there's a reason YOU decided to talk to HER. So stop being coy and come forward with the REAL reason you want to talk to her.
If you don't do this and try to dance around the topic, she's just going to get annoyed. She might find you cute at first, but after a while, your lack of courage is going to ruin your chances. Stop hiding the elephant in the room and be open with your intentions.
Let's imagine you on your way to a coffee shop. It's a beautiful day and several people are sitting outside. As you get close to the doors, you notice a beautiful girl sitting alone sipping on a Frappuccino. Walk up to her casually and with a BIG SMILE and say, "Hey I saw you over here and I think you're cute! I had to meet you." Then offer your hand and ask, "What's your name?"
Simple, right? No - not just simple...stupid simple. And that's ALL you have to say. Some men might debate me on this and say something like, "Why would you want to shake her hand and ask for her name? Some girls won't feel comfortable giving you their name." I agree completely - and here's why I suggest you do it anyway: it will help save both of you from wasting time.
If she's already in a relationship or not interested in you, she's going to let you know up front. If she doesn't feel comfortable shaking your hand, there's probably a good reason why. If she's not willing to open up with her name, she's probably not in the mood to talk to you. So walk away politely.
But if she's willing to keep talking to you, you have a solid thing going for you: you both know one another's names (duh) and you've already established physical contact. Subconsciously, she will feel more comfortable around you.
From there, keep the talk short and sweet. Skip the boring stuff ("What do you do for a living? Where do you live? Want to watch paint dry at Uncle Billy's house?") and ask her what she's genuinely interested in. If you share a mutual interest, tell her you'd like a chance to get to know her more and pick something you could both do together.
Ask for her phone number like this, "You sound like a lot of fun - let's stay in touch. What's your number?" Again, this is a VERY direct method - but believe me when I tell you that if she finds you attractive, THIS IS WHAT SHE WANTS. If for some reason she doesn't quite feel enough attraction towards you and declines, you have the choice to keep talking and trying to build rapport or you can simply politely excuse yourself.
You have to be willing to be rejected in order for this to work. If you only do this with one woman a month, you're going to be extremely nervous and too worried about your results. Try this strategy several times a week and watch what happens! Remember: keep it simple and direct.
Mr. Shu Reads
If you're attending a business networking event, your goal is very simple: meet as many people as you can and create some quick connections.
I'm typically traveling to a new networking event at least once a month. After attending hundreds of events like these, I have a simple system in place that lets me reach about 40-50 people in any given night.
First, choose a few people standing alone to warm yourself up. Walk over and introduce yourself with something simple: "Hey there - haven't meet you yet. What's your name?" Then extend your hand for a handshake and introduce yourself. You really don't need a better reason than that - and I would estimate 99% of the people at a networking event view this as an acceptable reason to meet someone new. When you say, "I haven't met you yet," they think, "Of course - we need to fix that immediately."
From this moment, your goal is to get into their world a little bit. Ask them what their challenges or obstacles are in business. See if you can suggest any resources or people that might be able to help them out. Offering value like this for free positions you as a social expert, especially if you take this idea one step further and begin introducing people you've met to one another at the networking event.
Just remember that not everyone is going to be a warm, friendly person. You are going to meet some cold, boring stiffs. If you need to disengage from an awkward conversation, say this: "Listen, it was great meeting you. I need to get back to my friends."
Once you're warmed up and have met a few people, you can start approaching groups. Let me squash another misconception: introducing yourself in front of a group of people is actually EASIER than meeting one person. In a group, you will quickly notice that one person isn't fully engaging. When you introduce yourself, they will more than likely end up wanting to talk to you.
Here's how you could do this. Let's say you see a group of 5 or 6 huddled together. Simply put your hand on a few shoulders (gently - you're not breaking through) and say, "Hey - you guys look interesting. Wanted to introduce myself." Then shake hands with each of them and now isolate the one person I mentioned before who seems most interested in talking to you. You'll notice this immediately - their attention will be OFF the group and ONTO you. Choose this person, peel them away from the group by turning your back slightly, and repeat the same strategy for meeting individual people.
Ask them what their challenges are, obstacles, goals, etc. and offer resources. Then if you want, join in the group conversation and offer your input.
There is one variation of this: sometimes when you join a group conversation, the people talking will be immediately willing to let you have the floor. This is because you have shown tremendous confidence by joining a group of complete strangers mid-conversation. When you notice that everyone stops talking and looks at you to lead, take the reins. You can ask individuals what they do for a living, what their goals are, or what they are passionate about. Or you can ask the group similar questions and see what they come up with. Afterwards, collect everyone's business card and move onto the next group - time is ticking.
The worst mistake you can make at a networking event is to stalk the sidelines (or food table) hoping people will meet you. While some might pity you and reach out to get to know you, most will ignore you. The reason they will ignore you isn't because it's a cruel, cruel world - but because if you're not putting in much energy, you won't attract much from others. You absolutely must be willing to initiate conversations.
In a world that is becoming more and more about your social connections and less about your college degree, taking advantage of networking events by meeting as many people as possible is always your best bet.
PARTIES AND SOCIAL EVENTS
Like the picture? I don't either - but I couldn't find a great "party" picture in my limited image search. Trying to avoid copyright infringement, team.
Anyway, social events are some of the best opportunities for you to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. While I don't recommend going crazy, having a few drinks in your system does help loosen you up a bit and feeling more relaxed (and most people will certainly be feeling the same way). Think of the booze as social training wheels.
When you want to meet someone new at a party, find the host. Because they know most everyone there (obviously - it's their party) - they will be able to introduce you to several people. Find a moment when he or she is taking it easy and ask them if they could introduce you to some folks. When you do this, all of the pressure you might have been feeling is now lifted off of your shoulders. Because the host is introducing you, you will be seen in better light than simply approaching alone.
Not that this is impossible. If you don't know the host or see that they are simply too busy, your best bet for starting conversations is to have a good time yourself. At a party, if everyone else is having a great time and you aren't, meeting new people is going to be tremendously challenging. I suggest getting more familiar with the environment first - see what games others are playing, dance to the music if you enjoy it, have a few drinks, and see what kind of amusement you and your friends can get into. This will shift your emotional state, loosen you up, and having you feeling more relaxed and ready to meet people.
Your best chance to then start a conversation is to do so WHILE you are having FUN. If you're dancing and notice others around you, reach out and say hello. If you're playing a game like beer pong, strike up a silly conversation against your opponents. Have your friends take pictures of you and people you meet. You want to think about framing each interaction with this idea of amusement and fun. If you don't, it's going to be hard to connect.
Then, towards the end of the party when things are winding down, you can casually introduce yourself to new people. Go with the same technique I suggested when you're flirting with women or networking in business. Say, "I haven't met you yet and that's a damn shame. I'm (YOUR NAME HERE)."
The key to starting conversations is to always take your mind out of the equation. You shouldn't have to think too much about what to say. If you do, I promise you are working way too hard at meeting new people.
Questions? Disagree with my suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!
About Byron Van Pelt
Byron Van Pelt is a Certified Life Coach, entrepreneur, and published author of Unshakable Swagger: The Man's Guide to Being Confident Any Time, Any Place...Period. He is now happily married with his wife, Bethany and lives in Jacksonville, Florida. With over eight years of dedication to the world of high-end personal development, he utilizes an arsenal of skills to accelerate his clients' breakthroughs in business, dating, health, and fulfillment. Byron specializes in teaching men how to explode their level of confidence in everything they do and ensure it resonates in even the most challenging circumstances.