Focus on rapport
When meeting people for the first time the most important thing to achieve is rapport. This occurs when two people click, gel and flow in conversation. The best way to achieve this is by mirroring and matching the other person’s body language, gestures, tone, volume and pace. This must be done subtly and appear totally natural.
Make the other person feel important
Everybody wants to feel important! The opposite is to feel insignificant and unimportant. The best way to achieve this is to pay attention to a person. Make eye contact, smile, give a firm but non-aggressive handshake, remember their name and use it frequently, listen to them in an active way, demonstrate interest in them and otherwise be impressed.
Become an active listener
As an excellent communicator, you should seek first to understand and then to be understood. When people feel understood, their defenses come down and their attention perks up. Great listening makes the other person feel important. The best way to achieve this is by listening to both verbal and non-verbal signals; responding with gestures, expressions, sounds and feedback; ask questions that probe even deeper into what they are saying and expressing. Finally, feed back what they have said so as to demonstrate a full understanding.
This means synchronizing your words with your expressions, gestures and body language. If you say something important in a humorous way, you may not get your point across. To drive your point home you must say it with your whole being. When listening to others we all subconsciously listen to both verbal and non-verbal signals and messages. If these conflict, the impact of the verbal message gets diluted.
Watch your defenses
Whenever we anticipate danger our body prepares itself to act swiftly by releasing powerful chemicals into our blood streams. These chemicals enable us for fight or flight. Whenever we feel threatened in a conversation, the mind activates its auto-defense mechanisms, which effectively screens and blocks out any harmful messages. When you feel defensive, you cannot hold a meaningful conversation. Likewise if the other person is in defence mode you will feel like your speaking to a brick wall. The key is to first recognise both non-verbal and verbal defensive signals in yourself and others. Then it is to use your emotional tools to either lower your own defences or to lower the other person’s.
Appeal to their senses
We experience the world through our five senses and have come to rely on them as accurate measurements for reality. When communicating with others you should make it an auditory, visual and kinaesthetic experience. i.e. when meeting someone for the first time, look at them in the eye with a warm smile (visual), shake their hand (kinaesthetic) and exchange pleasantries. (auditory).
Use your body language
It is generally agreed that there are two types of body language; i.e. closed and open. Closed body language could otherwise be called defensive body language because it typically seeks to protect the vital organs from danger. Creating barriers with your arms and legs tells people that you are nervous, anxious, shady, hiding something or plain scared. Open body language makes the vital organs venerable. Open hands, palms out etc tells the other person that you are comfortable, nothing to hide, honest and sincere. There are many other messages that can be conveyed with body language. Become a master of body language and use ti to your advantage.
Ask great questions
Questions determine the direction of a conversation at any given time. Closed questions can be answered with one word; usually yes or no. But open questions such as begin with why and how leads to interesting conversations and better rapport. The key is to prepare interesting and intelligent questions before meeting people so that you can have a conversation with them.
Being assertive is about resolving conflict and disagreement without belittling, undermining and humiliating the other person. Most people use aggressive techniques to resolve conflict and end up creating more conflict. You can use assertion by choosing the right time to make your point and then in a congruent way, identifying the exact behavior that must stop as well as the consequences of not stopping. You can close the discussion on a positive note by highlighting the benefits of cooperating with you.
Negotiate on principle
Everything is negotiable. Remember that the goal in negotiation is a win-win. You must sell both the benefits of your proposition as well as the consequences of not shifting. Explore options to see if there exists another way to achieve both your aims. Remember that you can’t take if you won’t give. Find out what the other party really wants to see if you can give it in exchange for what you really want.
You will rise or fall on the quality of your personal and professional network. The keys to professional success are to grow your knowledge and skill in the business and then to grow your network. You can do this by attending trade shows, functions and seminars relating to your industry sector. Join your industry related associations and attend the annual or monthly functions. Decide who you need to meet and why. Decide what you have to offer them and then make the connection. Do lunch and stay in touch with them keeping them posted.
Develop an attractive personality
You can become the person that every body wants to know by standing out, speaking up and being noticed! Pay attention to your appearance and your personality. The most attractive personality trait in people is confidence. Develop confidence even if you have to act it out initially. Confidence tells others that you know who you are and where you’re going. Coupled with confidence is the charisma of making people feel valuable , significant and important in your presence. Together these make your personality attractive and magnetic.