Effective Business Networking: How to Keep a Conversation Going

Whenever you meet someone new, whether it’s at an informal gathering (e.g. a party) or at a more formal venue (e.g. a business conference), sometimes it’s hard to know how to start a conversation. Keeping it going is even harder. How can you have a great, memorable conversation that your conversant won’t forget? The good news is that there are two simple tricks for captivating the person your talking to. Keep reading and I’ll explain how.

Trick #1: Turn the spotlight on them, not you. Rather than focusing too much on you, the more you can get your conversant to think about and speak about themselves, the more engrossed they will be with the subject matter of the conversation. Confident people realize that if they listen more than they talk, they will learn more about someone, and in the process, they are able to captivate the talker. In most cases, the talker won’t even realize that he or she is doing most of the talking! This technique works surprisingly well, and even causes you to be more memorable to the speaker. My manager still remembers one conversation I had with him when I first got to know him. He considers it one of our best conversations, but the truth is, I didn’t say much but rather kept the conversation on him!

Trick #2: Echo key words like a parrot. Conversations naturally bounce back and forth between you and the other person. It can be nerve-wracking when it gets back to be your turn, and you don’t know what to say next to keep the flow of the conversation going. Fortunately, a foolproof technique is to identify a key word that your speaker just said, and to echo it back, prompting further elaboration. For example, here’s a sample conversation that makes use of the echo technique to easily keep a conversation going (and even steering it different ways):

  • Partner: “I had a great time at the conference.”
  • You: “Conference?”
  • Partner: “Yeah, food was wonderful, and the keynote speakers were really good too.”
  • You: “Good keynote speakers?”
  • Partner: “Yeah, Bob Johns was there, and Adam Carlson gave a talk on business ethics.”
  • You: “Business ethics?”
  • Partner: “Yeah… [conversation continues].”
  • You (repeating earlier keyword to take conversation a different direction): “You said the food was wonderful?”

Keep these two simple techniques in mind, and the conversations will flow and be more memorable. Good luck!

7 Best Things You Can Do With Amazon Echo

Do you have a new Alexa device? It might be the Amazon Echo, the Amazon Echo Dot, or the Amazon Tap. The Amazon Echo has earned tremendous acclaim since its launch last year. It’s important to know the features of your new smart assistant. That’s how you can exploit it for all its benefits and use it up to its full potential. The Echos’ virtual assistant, Alexa, can do a lot of amazing things on your command. Now, there are two ways you can use it. You can either waste your precious productive time fooling around with it or read the top benefits right here.

Here we list the 7 best things you can do with the Amazon Echo.

1. Call Your Contacts

Amazon Echo brings the traditional landlines back into business. The assistant allows you to call any number in your contact list. You can use your Alexa device to make a voice call to any of your contacts who also have the device. Additionally, you can even leave a message if the person doesn’t respond. Currently, the assistant offers no option for blocking specific numbers.

2. Grab Your Meals and More

Echo isn’t confined to just placing orders on Amazon. You now can use Alexa to order other things as well. It incorporates the two-hour daily delivery system of Amazon. For now, the service is only available in some selected cities and is valid for items of daily needs and other household items. However, there are some cities where you can place an order for food and even alcohol as well.

3. Plan Your Day

This is unmistakably the topmost feature. Yes, Alexa can help you plan your day. How? The modern smart assistant tells you about the weather outside your house and the happenings around the world. You can have a complete overview of the day and a quick recap of the news around you. Additionally, you can also check your to-do list for the day. Utilising these features you are able to plan and choose your clothing and events according to your schedule.

4. Make Your Home Smarter

Amazon Echo can easily turn your home into a smart home. The Alexa is equipped with a smart home tool to let you master most operations of your smart home. So, now with Alexa, you can switch your lights on and off and even change the colors of your lights. Additionally, you can change the temperature of your room according to your preference. Also, you can control all the door locks of your home easily. And, that’s not all. Alexa can control anything that’s smart in your house.

5. Read Without Reading

Alexa can help you to “read” several books without truly having to read them. Another Amazon-powered feature packed in Alexa is ‘Audible.’ It reads audio books for you while you’re occupied doing other things. The book stays in sync across various devices to let you start from the point where you left off at the last time. You can play or pause a book, advance or turn it back by 30 seconds and even set a timer for the play or pause functions.

6. Play Your Choice of Music

Alexa can play nearly any music or song that you feel in the mood for. Although the default music player for Alexa is obviously the Amazon player, Amazon isn’t that stubborn. Alexa allows you to set your own music services like Spotify or other such apps. So, all you have to do is just set your favorite music service as the Alexa default, and you’re ready to rock and roll. Your assistant is smart enough to find and play your favorite music or song from its catalog.

7. Make It Do Anything

Alexa connects to a lot of devices, but not all. There are quite a few devices that aren’t compatible with your smart assistant. But that doesn’t mean you can’t control them. You can train your assistant to do more. The feature that enables your Alexa to connect with unsupported apps, devices, and websites is called IFTTT. Even though unsupported devices can’t be controlled with voice commands to the Alexa, you can still program your assistant for various tasks using IFTTT.

So these are our picks for the best things your Amazon Echo can do for you. Apart from these, the assistant has a plethora of functions. You can get to know them all over a period of time using it. So, get smart, and get the Amazon Echo.

Is Your Business Model Snuffing Out Your Message?

I often talk to coaches, consultants, freelancers, small business owners, authors, speakers… etc. who feel stuck.

Well, screw the label, that’s not important. They’re the “do their own thing, do something meaningful” kind of people.

They’ve done the professional training, bought the marketing program, and even built a business or two.

But they rarely go back to square one and question whether they have structured their business to amplify their vision and message.

Oh, you’re certified as a “coach” – so there’s what a coaching business model looks like: a 1:1 program, a group program, an online course, and an info product. Or, a 1-month, 3-month, and 6-month package. The end.

When people are starting out, a business model is a godsend. It gives you something to build upon and the visibility of “where the money is coming from.”

But as you evolve and refine your skills and message, it’s easy to get on autopilot and take the business model as a given.

What used to work when you needed training wheels may not work now that you’ve figured out what the heck you’re doing.

Have you revisited and validated your business model lately?

Is the suite of offerings in alignment with your message?

Are they giving you the best venue to serve your ideal clients?

Are the programs/products/services tapping into your strengths?

Are the creating the most value for your clients?

Are the formats of delivery amplifying your message… or are they snuffing out its essence?

When we try to squeeze our message into some predetermined format… due to habit, laziness, fear, unawareness, inertia, or good intention (because the gurus say so)… we may not be doing it justice.

Product-Centric vs. Client-Centric

If you start with a business model (which is essentially a collection of products, services, and pricing) instead of your message and its expression, you’re putting the cart in front of the horse.

Leading with a business model is a product-centric mindset. It’s an old-school approach and doesn’t do well when we’re evolving quickly as a society (think Kodak and film.)

Leading with an audience is a client/customer-centric mindset. It helps you stay relevant even when “the thing that people want” changes (think Netflix and entertainment.)

Leading with your message grounds your business in your Truth, connects you with the work you do, and anchors you in the community that you serve.

Have you asked your message what it wants to be when it grows up?

Are you connected with your message in such a way that you can let its expression come through without overthinking it or mucking it up with your ego?

Pop the bubble. Leave the echo chamber.

Don’t limit your message to “what a _______ business is supposed to be like.”

(If you keep digging, you may realize that your business isn’t about ________. What if you’re something else?)