Strike up a conversation with anyone

The Situation

I arrived at my hotel the first night exhausted and went to bed early. I was so tired that I forgot to get my phone charger from the rental car. First thing in the morning, I crawled out of bed, turned the coffee pot on and went down to fetch my charger. I left with just the keys to the room and the car.

It was so warm and gorgeous out and although tired and in need of coffee (and a toothbrush) I felt great and so happy to be away in the sunshine. I grabbed the charger and got back to my room then realized the “room key” in my hand was really a business card that someone had given me. Fu*k. I had to find my way to the office, with no glasses on, and in my pajamas. (I have no shame:)

I wound my way through the underground parking lot to the dumpsters (yuck) until I found myself  trapped in a parking lot surrounded by tall shrubs. It was either circle back and start all over or go through the bushes, so through the bushes I went. In desperate need of a toothbrush and a cup of coffee, I finally made it to the lobby. As miserable as I was, at the last moment, I realized what a funny site I was and I saw the humor in it.  

The Pivotal Moment

One of the employees happened to be walking in at the same time as I was was kind enough to hold the door for me. As I walked in thanking her for holding it, I had my hand over my mouth and said, “Thanks. I haven’t brushed my teeth” and we both started to laugh. I instantly felt better and received the gift of seeing how ridiculous the whole situation was. I approached the counter with the  business card in one hand and the phone charger in the other.

I held up business card and said, “Excuse me! My room key isn’t working”.  Pam, who was behind the desk, lit up in a giant smile. The conversation then was breezy and fun as I made fun of my situation. We had a good laugh and I showed her the culprit (Carl- I am looking at you!) This led to friendly conversation. It also led to me showing her that my business card could NEVER be mixed up with a room key. 

My energy shifted from a crappy situation that could have ruined my entire day into a funny story that made me happy and enjoy the moment. I carried that with me until I went to sleep that night, and I noticed that I was open to people all day because if it. I had more conversations and connections with strangers that one day than I normally do in a week. It made my day and my trip more enjoyable.

Afterward

When I got home, I took this lesson with me. I now keep my eyes and my attitude open. I have been looking people in the eye and asking them questions about themselves, and the results have been incredible. I feel more grounded and connected and have learned so much about people in a very short time. 

I plan to continue this practice and make a part of my daily habit until it just becomes a natural part of who I am. It just feels good, so I want to do it. That’s the good news. The great news is that is also helping me build my business. Dramatically.

Our Business and Our Life are Connected

One of the unique aspects of selling real estate is that everyone is a potential client. Everyone needs a place to live, so it makes sense that people all around us are having conversations about real estate all the time. We just have to listen. We have to ask questions about the person and truly be interested in them. We have to be led first by making a connection. When we are led by that, we are open and the conversation flows. It becomes easy and natural to strike up a conversation with someone. It is enjoyable and can lead to all sorts of things. A sale could be one of them.

But your Mother Told You Not to Talk to Strangers

Are you scared to talk to strangers or have no idea what to say?  One tip is to focus on an object, rather than the person. You could comment about their shirt. Does it have a slogan on it that you ask about? Do you just love the color and need to tell them? Are they holding a bottle of wine? You can smile and  say, “I hope you are celebrating something fun with that wine.” Are you eating at a restaurant? Strike up a conversation with your server. “This looks like a really fun place to work” or “You guys have the best conch fritters in town. You must meet  people from all over who come in to order them!”

These little openers work wonders in starting a conversation. By showing genuine interest in the person and giving them an opportunity to tell you a little bit about themself, you are creating a great opportunity for a connection.

Practice Makes Perfect

This may seem hard at first, but with some practice, it will become easier and feel more natural. The more you do it, the better at it you will become. You will learn to read cues from people and get a feel for what works and what doesn’t work when trying to engage with people. Pay attention to their body language and if they make eye contact or not. You will soon be familiar with the signs that indicate whether or not someone is open to conversation. 

Even if you think you aren’t a “people person”, you can be! It just takes a little courage and some practice. Just be sure to be led by the desire to connect with another human. Do not be led by business, or you will miss the opportunity to connect and will blow any chance you have of building a business relationship. 

And above all, expect that some people just won’t be open to clicking with you. It could be all about them and the rough day that they are having or an issue that has them preoccupied. Instead of taking it personally, just approach each interaction as an exciting opportunity to make a human connection. That way you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. That makes it a no brainer, right? So, don’t listen to your mother. Go out and talk to strangers.