Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
You know it takes more than one conversation to build a business relationship.
You also know it can be tricky to find the right balance or cadence in sending emails or striking up conversations with someone who's new to your network or contact list.
What you might not have consider is the tremendous networking opportunity March Madness and the NCAA Tournament presents. It's not about basketball. It comes down to the frequency of the conversations. It's expected basketball fans are going to talk about the tournament. It lasts three weeks, there's always drama and anyone who fills out an NCAA Tournament bracket is invested in the outcomes, at least to a small degree.
If you're a basketball fan, that's awesome. If you're only a basketball fan during the NCAA Tournament, that's great. If you don't care about basketball at all, I'd suggest you take a passing interest and think outside the box scores.
Talking to a new business contact every couple days for three...
Each week I encourage you to utilize opportunities in small talk. This week I’m encouraged by a conversation that took place 10 years ago…
Friday I spoke a conference and the name of one our afternoon speakers looked very familiar. I couldn’t place it until she gave me a hug and said thank you for taking the time to talk to her several years earlier at the same conference. That interaction and the couple follow up emails and conversations led to finding her perfect job in sports.
Talking to aspiring broadcasters is something I do frequently, but I don’t always hear the follow up success stories and get the reminder that conversations matter – even the ones you might have forgotten about or are no longer top of mind. I don’t remember the specifics of that conversation 10 years ago but I am positive it started with small talk at the conference. Small talk set the tone for our interactions and laid the foundation for bigger conversations that...
Change management in real time.
That’s what we’re seeing across Major League Baseball as a result of new rule changes that include a pitch clock. That means that for the first time ever the game will be timed at the big league level.
There are a couple of things I want point out:
The baseball rule changes are a popular topic at the moment, but if you’d like additional headlines for small talk this week check out the full list below.
I was finishing my workout. I just wanted to make it through my final plank - UGH! I watched the seconds tick by with one thought, "just finish."
After collapsing into a child's pose I realized I spent more than a minute thinking about just one thing - that stupid plank. In fact, that might have been the only time that day my mind wasn't skipping around, trying to manage multiple things at once. The timer at the end of my workout forced me to focus. It's the same thing that's happening in Major League Baseball this year.
For the first time ever there is a pitch clock for big league games. It's creating a lot of conversation and that gives us a chance to think outside the box scores.
I've talked to a number of big league hitters who have all said the new timing rules forces them to focus on one objective at the plate. They don't have time to think about the previous pitch. There's no time for extra thoughts or "What ifs." Being on the clock hones their focus.
I’m generally baffled and surprised by the topics that get characterized as “conversation starters.” I think what most blogs, news organizations, feeds, etc. mean to say is, “Here’s something interesting to talk about among friends.”
Big topics that include hot-button issues and require a deep-dive aren’t good conversation starters in a business setting. When you weed through the remaining options after removing: money, religion, politics and sex you’re left with the weather – boring! And sports – Bingo!
Now might be a good time to mention that 113 million people watched the Super Bowl between the Chiefs and the Eagles last week making it the third most-watched television show all-time. (In case you’re wondering, the top two broadcasts are also Super Bowls.)
Sports works in small talk and as a productive conversation starter. Use these topics to get the ball rolling this week.
Here’s more proof that sports stands alone as a conversation starter. The NFL season is over and no one – not a single fan – has waited to binge the season from Week 1 through the Super Bowl.
We don’t watch sports that way. This isn’t Ted Lasso it’s real life. We don’t wait for a season to end before we find out what happened to our favorite team. It’s ridiculous to even suggest that. It’s equally as ridiculous not to use sports to your advantage.
I used to say sports is the only DVR-proof programming on TV. Now it’s more accurate to say it’s the only appointment-viewing programming available.
Sports fans watch sporting events in real time, or at the very least know the outcome within 24 hours.
That means there’s always something new to talk about. There’s never a shortage of storylines, outcomes, great performances, or questionable calls to discuss. You don’t have to search for conversation...
It doesn’t get much better than this, at least in terms of conversation starters. The Super Bowl had a little something for everyone, whether it was the game itself, the half time show or the food you indulged in.
Chances are there’s at least one element of the Super Bowl you are interested in talking about, and guess what? There are millions of people who are not only willing to talk about the game, but really want to talk about the game. Every year the Super Bowl is one of the highest rated programs on live TV. Use that to your advantage in small talk this week and while you’re at it, use the rest of these sports topics too.
Most sports fans watching a game focus on the game action. Makes sense right? Here's what else I tend to notice, the type of communication that takes place during a game.
It's often very direct and concise because there's not a lot of time to discuss options during the middle of a game. That brings us to a communication skill that will make you a more effective communicator at work - asking Yes/No questions.
I know somewhere along the way you've been told not to do that. I also know it's potentially bad advice. There's tremendous value in giving someone an easy answer and limiting their options. You see it all the time in football.
I'm not suggesting that every question be in this form, but if you really want a response to an email including "Let me know if you have any questions" isn't as direct as saying "Does this timeline work for you?"
One approach gets you closer to your end result than the other. It might take an extra minute to think through...
According to a recent study done at the University of Kansas quality conversation makes our days better. Interestingly enough, the definition of “quality conversation” in their research ranges from joking around to catching up and valuing others and their opinions.
Here’s what I found interesting, they didn’t specify how long a conversation needed to be in order to improve connection and overall well-being.
That means the length of the conversation doesn’t determine the quality of the conversation.
To me that reinforces the fact small talk can count as quality conversation IF and WHEN we’re intentional about it. You can make it a meaningful exchange by preparing and having something to say. Here are a few sports headlines that can help with quick, quality interactions this week.
Talking about the outcome of a game is part of being a sports fan. It's also part of your personal brand.
That might not matter so much if you only talk sports with your closest friends. As one of my Instagram followers pointed out, every fan can talk for hours about how terrible the NFL refs/officials have been in recent years.
Here's what I want to point out - if that conversation takes place at a sports bar, tail gate or game itself that's one thing. If it's taking place at work that is an entirely different story. Being emotionally invested as a fan can lead to emotional responses to outcomes, coaching decisions, play calls, etc... That type of response isn't necessarily the message you want to send to colleagues, managers or clients.
As a sports fan you can talk about sports however you want to, but understand you are talking about more than an outcome. If your sports narrative includes consistently blaming the officials for an unfavorable outcome, it's...