You’re talking to a customer at a trade show, before a presentation or for the first time on the phone.
You invested a lot of money and time to get to this point only to bomb the first impression with meaningless conversation about the weather/ sports/ home town.
Yes, you’re thinking right now that this is better than a conversation about politics/ religion / coming off as a creep but the bottom line is that the person you just spoke will most likely ignore you the next day when you try to follow up.
A recent article in Wall Street Journal suggests a very simple change to how you handle first time conversation to get the other person to actually engage and better yet, answer your call/email/ social connection request tomorrow!
The secret is simple, open bold and deep and show genuine interest in the person you are talking to.
Here are a few examples:
Small talk – How long have you lived/worked here?
Big talk – What do you like best about living / working here?
Small Talk – The keynote/presentation/event is interesting
Big Talk – What was the one thing that caught your attention in the keynote/presentation/event?
Small Talk – So you work at Acme? I work at BigCo
Big Talk – So tell me, what are the top challenges at Acme you guys are trying to solve these days?
Final example where you are being pulled into the weather/ sports “small talk zone”:
Small Talk – Yeah the weather is so hot/cold , i can’t wait for it to cool off/warm up/ go to my vacation
Big Talk – Yeah It’s hot, I wonder how this impacts the performance of folks, what do you think?
Sure enough, there are risks with going big.
The statics on how many people will engage with you when you go big vary based on how experienced you are and how much you remind them of “Silence of the Lambs” (Some experts in the article say 3 out 4 people might get spooked which sounds very high..).
The bottom line is the ones that do engage, will have a lasting impression that will make them likely to talk to you when you follow up and that makes all the difference.