How many times do you show up to a party and the person you end up talking to all night doesn’t talk about anyone but themself?
This is the fourth post in Deltek’s A&E marketing and business development blog series. Expert David Stone, founder and President of Stone and Company, talks about the importance of learning to talk about someone other than yourself. With this insight (backed by Deltek Vision CRM and the integrated suite of Vision marketing solutions), Deltek’s goal is simple: To help your firm win more work! Enjoy. To learn more about Deltek Vision CRM, check out this demo.
Harry Connick, Jr., along with a number of other big name stars, has wrapped up filming a new holiday season movie – When Angels Sing – that promises to be a winner. Chandler Canterbury is a 14-year old actor (you may have seen him playing a young (old?) Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) is also in this new movie.
HC Jr. tells how he and Chandler were hanging out between scenes “when he looked at me and said, ‘What’s the secret of being popular? How do you get people to like you?’”
What a great question! And an even better question for those involved in business development.
Harry’s answer? “The secret of being liked is to always ask five questions before you say anything about yourself. People won’t remember what you said about yourself, but they’ll always remember what you asked about them.”
This is fabulous advice that we all need to practice every day. And if you doubt it’s true, try this simple experiment. The next time you’re at a social gathering – a neighborhood party or a business reception will do – walk up to someone you don’t know, introduce yourself, and then begin talking about yourself. Tell them about your job, your family, last summer’s vacation, your hobbies, your favorite sports teams and your pet turtle, Ralph. As you’re talking about yourself, keep track of the time and see how long it takes until your new ‘friend’ finds an excuse to end the conversation and move on to someone more interesting than you.
Then move on to part two of the experiment. Find another person you don’t know, introduce yourself and begin asking them questions about themselves. Ask about their job, what they enjoy most about it, what they find the most challenging. Ask where they went to college and how their school’s football or basketball team is doing. Ask how they like to spend their leisure time. With each of these questions, be very sincere, pay close attention and ask follow-up questions whenever you can. Keep an eye on how long this conversation goes on. You’ll find that everyone else has gone home but you’re still having a great conversation with your new best friend. Why? Because you spent the whole time talking about her favorite subject – herself. You shifted the conversation to put her at the center of the universe.
Where is the center of the universe? It’s right there where you happen to be right now, just like it is with everyone. The first and most important rule of business development etiquette is to put your client at the center of the universe and focus on his or her favorite subject.
You were born with two ears, two eyes and one mouth and, as your mother said, you’re intended to use them in that proportion. There is far too much valuable information that we miss when we’re talking. Let the other person talk. When you talk, use your time to ask questions. Lots of sincere questions that not only get you more information, but show that you’re genuinely interested. If you can’t wait for the other person to finish speaking so that you can get your two cents in, you’re missing a huge opportunity to build a high-quality relationship and learn some valuable information. Next time you’re in a conversation, take five minutes to listen, observe and keep quiet.