How do you start a conversation with someone you don’t know but really want to? Here are some tips I have had success with in the past.
Tell a joke about something happening in your surroundings.
THE STINK BOMB
I was walking through the hallways of my high school when this awful smell forced its way into my nasal cavities. The smell was so bad that it made my eyes water and almost rendered me frozen in shock. Well at the same time a gorgeous young lady was walking by and I didn’t have a clue of what to say. I mean what was there to say, “Hi, man it stinks right here. Can I call you sometime?”
Instead, being the natural goof ball that I am I say, as she is passing me on the other side of the hallway, when our eyes catch, “Man, that smells good doesn’t it,” with a huge smile on my face. She burst out laughing so hard and even in the midst of a stink bomb attack we had a great conversation.
THE RESTROOM ROUND-UP
At my job the janitorial staff has to shut down the restroom when it needs to be cleaned. Oddly, it seems every time I really, really have to go is when they happen to be at the restroom closest to me. I jump out of my seat walking swiftly to get to the bathroom just to be halted by the closed sign. Well today a member of upper management happened to be headed to the same bathroom I had just noticed was closed. I knew this would be a great opportunity to start a conversation.
At the moment we had something in common. We were both about to pee our pants. As he got close enough to notice it was closed we made eye contact and I said, “I am so glad I wore my Depends today or this would have really been an inconvenience for me.”
Ask them for a recommendation
There was a gentleman whom I really wanted to add to my network of contacts. He was a man of knowledge and power in my desired line of work. This man was not a person I would ever be able to get to on my own and he happened to be eating at a restaurant I frequent. By frequent I mean visit once every three years for my anniversary because the food is so expensive.
What was I suppose to do? I couldn’t go up to him and tell him you are my hero let me buy your dinner. I barely had enough to pay for my bread and water combo and my wife’s steak. So once he finished his food I walked right up to the table and asked him, “I have a quick question for you. The food here is so amazing. By chance do you know of a good seafood restaurant that has a similar ambiance and food quality?
Without hesitation he pulled out his business card and said, “I don’t know of one myself but I know someone who does. Give me a call sometime tomorrow and I will find out for you.” I got my foot in the door and a great recommendation to a restaurant. One day, in the distant future, I might be able to, after maximizing my savings and years and years of compound interest, buy a salad from there.
Ask them for their opinion (non-threatening issue: No politics, religion, or other sensitive topics)
TIDE VS ALL
While shopping at Target I noticed a man who was nicely dressed who dropped a business card on the floor by accident. He was a graphic design artist and I needed some help putting something together from a man of his expertise. I grabbed the card and ran it back to the man to inform him he dropped it. In my mind I was thinking I should just ask for his help but I felt it would be too intrusive. Instead using my intellect I thought to take advantage of our shopping experience.
At the moment we were both shopping for laundry detergent. My wife was with me so I started a conversation with her about Tide vs. All and which one was the better detergent. I spoke a little louder than normal so he could hear us. I concluded the brief debate saying it all comes down to the marketing. Then I looked the gentleman in the eye and asked, “In your opinion by just looking at the bottle which one do you think is the better brand?”
Using these tips you will have some excellent tools on starting a conversation. But, a conversation doesn’t end with an opening. There is also the middle which is the meat, and an end, the closing.
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