When is the last time you were in that awkward moment… the one where you are thinking of starting a conversation with someone you don’t know (or don’t know well), and you aren’t sure what to say?
How are you?
How’s your day been?
I’m _________. What’s your name?
Come here often?
Okay, now it just sounds like a pick up line.
In all seriousness, though,
The person who is willing to act despite his or her awkward feelings is the one who has the most friends.
Why? Because the way to make more friends is to first… make more connections. When you talk with more people, you are benefiting from the numbers. The more people you meet, the more people you’ll connect with. But is it really that simple?
You do need to talk to more people in order to connect with them, but there is a second step that is important also. What you say during those conversations will determine whether or not you get second or third conversations.
This strategy (for the second step) works for everybody. No matter how attractive we are, how funny we are, how successful we are, or any other characteristic… this connection-maker just works…
Here is the KEY
(Dale Carnegie said it best in his book – How to Win Friends and Influence People)
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
It’s really that simple: Take an interest in others.
People like to talk about themselves and what they are interested in.
So let them. In fact, don’t just let them… encourage it. Here’s how:
- Ask them questions about themselves.
- Ask them questions about what they are interested in.
- When they answer, ask follow up questions to what they just told you.
Here’s an example (you are person A):
Person A “What do you like to do with your free time?”
Person B “Usually I’m just checking stuff out online.”
Person A “Oh yah. Where do you find the coolest stuff?”
Person B “YouTube, Instagram, Hulu.”
Person A “What are some of your favorite YouTube channels or videos?”
… and so on.
If they respond by asking you questions, go ahead and answer them. Then ask them a follow up question again. You don’t want to avoid answering questions about yourself, because that just seems stand-off-ish. You don’t want to come across as an interrogator who’s unwilling to answer questions. That would not be effective.
I’m amazed every time I walk away from a conversation where the other person let me ask him or her question after question and then expressed how much they enjoyed our conversation. Even if the other person doesn’t ask you any questions, don’t be offended. Most people just don’t know this is a technique to create a conversation that is a building block to a relationship.
It’s not that they aren’t interested in learning about you. They just don’t know yet that they should reciprocate.
And that’s okay. Once you’ve developed a deeper, trusting relationship (friendship, co-workership, peership, or otherwise), you can share with them this technique so that they might benefit from it also.
To review, the two key ideas are:
Be willing to start the conversation! With anyone and everyone.
Once started, spend the majority of the time asking others about themselves.
I guarantee you will make more friends using those two strategies. I’ve done it myself and I’ve mentored others who’ve done it.
If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to reach out.
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