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!

Life Is an Echo: The Extraordinary Zig Ziglar

He lived well…

I came across a quote by Zig Ziglar today which led me to Life is an Echo. It’s an excerpt from See You at the Top. It was rejected by 30 different publishers before it was ever printed. The publishers weren’t impressed with this humble salesman. Before today, I knew so little of the history of this self-made man. I’m so blessed by taking some time to learn more. I hope you will feel the same.

Zig Ziglar was born…

in the tiny Alabama town of Enterprise in 1926. It’s one so small that you really have to be looking to find. Blink and you’ve missed it. It’s the land of cotton, soy beans and corn. It’s most known for a Boll Weevil Monument and peanuts. Moreover, Dale County is the Peanut Capitol of the World. It’s as Americana as it gets. I’ve passed through Enterprise a hundred times over the years, always on my way to somewhere else. You’d think I would have seen the sign saying “birthplace of our most famous son.” But this is where Zig lived his first five years. I can’t help but think of the influence this land had on him.

When I read Life is an Echo today, Enterprise ran through my mind. See You at the Top is about kindness and striving to do the right thing. It’s about treating people the way you’d like to be treated. It’s about HOPE. It’s about anticipating good things from people. If you know of Zig, then you know this is his theme song. Zig had a strong belief-system that started back in the red, Alabama clay.

Reap what you sow

Zig’s dad was a farmer. It makes me think of my relative who farm’s a few miles from his birthplace. I have learned so much from him. He is very wise. He can repair and build anything. In fact, he could have been any number of things. He loved that red clay he was born on and chose to be farmer. I’ve seen him throw on a suit, meet with a banker in town, and finance next year’s crops despite a “very bad year.” He made me realize farming is hard work. I know that farming is a lot like life. “You reap what you sow” has true meaning to both farmers and life. Tending. Patching. Watching. Waiting. Praying. Repairing. Studying. Resting. Adjusting. Testing. Crying. Rejoicing. Working. Working. Working.

Less than 2 years after the start of the great depression, Zig’s father relocated the family to Mississippi. He moved them so he could manage another farm in very bad times. A year later, when he was just 6 years old, his father died of pneumonia. Two days later, his little sister died. He was one of 12 children then raised by a single mom in a slow-recovering country. Can you imagine the pain for that little guy? And yet, he accomplished so much. If anyone had a reason to live a negative life, it might as well be him.

Black Monday

I know this story well. My grandfather died exactly 2 months after “Black Monday.” At 27, he left a young widow with 3 small children at the worst possible time. The oldest was my 5-year-old mother. She and her siblings were all separated and forced to live with relatives. My grandma returned to her parents’ home for several years. She made and sold queen-sized, hand-pieced, heirloom quilts for $2 each to survive. (I’m blessed to have 3 of her quilts. They are each works of perfection.)

My mother told endless stories. People who didn’t farm were starving. Mom learned to cook complete meals and do difficult farm work while her mom worked the farm. At 5, she could kill, clean, cut up, and cook a chicken by herself! I know how this impacted my reality: I was raised by two depression babies. Knowing all this, Zig’s positive nature intrigues me even more.

I’m including Life is an Echo below. Read it. Reflect on the countless masses of men and women Zig Ziglar helped over the years. He was the college drop-out who became the world’s most famous salesman. Life is an Echo was more than his “swan song.” As you read it, think about his simple beginnings during the worst financial time America has ever seen. Here’s my takeaway: DO YOU have a good reason why you can’t succeed THIS year?

Zig Ziglar, Life is an Echo

Life is an echo. What you send out comes back. What you sow you reap. What you give you get. What you see in others exists in you. Regardless of who you are or what you do, if you are looking for the best way to reap the most reward in all areas of life, you should look for the good in every person and in every situation and adopt the golden rule as a way of life.

It’s a universal truth that you treat people exactly like you see them. It’s also true that all you have to do to find “good” or “ability” in a person is to look for it. Once you find that “good” or “ability” in the other person, you treat him better and he performs better. So it’s good “business” and good “humanness” to be a “good finder.”

Well said, Zig.

Are you struggling to succeed in a sluggish economy? If so, share some of your stories or tips that keep you motivated and positive like Zig. Just leave a comment below.

Why NOW Is the Best Time Ever to Build Your Network Marketing or Direct Sales Business

If you’re like many of the women I mentor in network marketing/direct sales, I bet you love your products and really believe in your business opportunity. I suspect you love the personal growth that comes with building your business, as well as the positive impact you can have on people’s lives every day. And I’m sure you’re inspired by the “success stories” of the top leaders in your own company, and would love to create a similar kind of income and lifestyle for your family too.

And, if you’re like many of the gals I work with, I bet there are also times you start to doubt yourself – or your business. Do you ever have those days when you wonder “Is all this hard work really worth it?” “When do things get easier?” “Can I really make the money I want to with this business (or am I just chasing a pipe dream?)

If you’ve ever questioned your own “sanity” or seriously thought about quitting your business altogether, the good news is – you’re perfectly normal. Growing your business and going after your dreams takes courage, dedication and lots of hard work. Most people have plenty of doubts along the way (no matter what kind of business you’re building). Ask any successful leader in your company, and I bet he/she will admit to thoughts of throwing in the towel on more than one occasion.

Even so, I want to assure you of something. No matter how tough things get, or how many doubts you might have, you must NOT give up. Why – because this is the BEST TIME EVER to be building a network marketing or direct sales business. There are 3 very important trends happening right now (both in the United States and several countries around the world) which are converging to make your business opportunity VERY attractive. The bottom line – you are sitting right in the middle of a “sweet spot,” that is positioning your business for some real growth in the next few years.

Here’s why:

1. Big challenges in our economy

Although the economy has improved since the crash of 2008, there are still plenty of people who are concerned about being laid off or their overall financial security. Many people are still wary of the stock market, and not expecting much growth in real estate any time soon. This is all good news for you.

Perhaps the greatest gift people have experienced through the challenges of the last few years is the realization that we can’t rely on “traditional methods” to make money, or trust in others to take care of our financial security. Having a “Plan B” isn’t just a nice idea, it’s a total necessity.

There’s a big wake-up call happening – which is inspiring many more corporate execs and working professionals to look to less traditional ways to generate capital, including network marketing. And this trend is going to continue, as the reputation and credibility of the network marketing/direct sales profession continues to elevate around the world.

2. Technology

The rapid growth of the internet, mobile phones, and social media tools like Facebook has literally blown the doors off the network marketing/direct sales profession – making it easier than ever for you to find leads, take care of customers and build a large team (virtually anywhere in the world).

Unlike the “old days” when the start-up costs for new distributors were much higher (and signing up with a company generally meant filling up your garage full of products – which you may or may not sell… ) technology has changed everything. Today, it’s easier than ever to service your existing customers (generally with just the push of a button) and even find new ones. Social media platforms like Facebook now boast over 900 MILLION users, and with a little strategy and know how, you can use these tools to find hundreds of super qualified leads for your business.

This new “streamlined, super leveraged” way of building a business is now attracting new people into the profession. From Gen Y college kids to baby boomers, health and wellness professionals to people with degrees up the yin yang… people who previously weren’t that interested in network marketing are now paying attention and getting involved. Experts now predict that this “technology revolution” will make network marketing/direct sales a “household word” – and TENS of MILLIONS of people will be getting involved in companies just like yours in the next decade. Obviously, this is fantastic news for you!

And the MOST important reason to be in network marketing/direct sales right now…

3. More women than ever are leaving the corporate world to start businesses from home

Fed up with the stress, long hours, low pay and corporate politics, women are leaving the traditional job market in droves, and starting businesses from home – at the rate of over 400 a day here in the US (and that’s a trend that’s being echoed around the world!)

And many of these women are seeing the potential in network marketing and direct sales, jumping in with both feet – and doing extremely well. Over the years, I’ve had the great opportunity to coach and mentor several ex-corporate gals like this – and I’m constantly amazed and inspired to see how well they do in this profession.

Many of them have quickly replaced their previous incomes, developed large teams (sometimes in many different countries) and now have the kind of lifestyle and free time that just isn’t possible when working in a traditional job.

And most inspiring of all, the women involved in network marketing / direct sales today are NOT just about making money, they’re equally invested in making a DIFFERENCE. I know so many women who are joining this profession, not just because of the money or lifestyle you can create, but because of the ways you can help people literally TRANSFORM THEIR lives through your products, your business opportunity, and even by channeling the money you make in your business towards causes that are dear to your heart.

The bottom line is, there are PLENTY of savvy, professional women out there who desperately need new options, and your business fits the bill in so many ways. Whether you are a man – or a woman, you’re smart to recruit these gals into your business; all you have to do is find these gals, and show them how YOUR opportunity is the ultimate solution they’re looking for.

And if you’d like some help with this, stay tuned! I’m about to release a 4 part video series, that will show you how to do just that. (And the best part, this is free!).

Stay tuned for more details, and in the meantime – keep dreaming big and believing in yourself, because what you do makes a difference!