Be A Conversation Starter

September 30, 2007

The conversation is an important tool in building relationships. Relationships are an important factor in your success, however you define it.

That’s why you need to be a conversation starter. But, keep in mind, this simple statement can be taken two ways:

  1. Be worth talking about when you’re not around.
  2. Start conversations when you are.

And each of these are important if you want to enhance your career. Both in in-person interactions and online.

To start conversations you really just need a few things:

  1. Something to say.
  2. Confidence.

To be worth talking about, you essentially need the same things, just in a little different packaging.

  1. Great ideas.
  2. A personality worth talking about.

The beauty of being a conversation starter in person is that brilliant conversationalists are also the type of people that others will bring up in conversation later on. People love talking about great storytellers, people with charisma, intellectuals, people with unique ideas, those who are outgoing or friendly.

And when people talk with you and about you, great things can happen. Especially if you have something spectacular to say. Doors may open, opportunities arise, your network grow. And who knows where you may end up.

So go ahead, start talking.

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5 Responses to “Be A Conversation Starter”

  1. presh Says:

    I really like this advice. One thing I’d add is that you can take company events (like holiday parties) as an opportunity to start conversations with senior managers. It is a great chance to talk to people who are usually too busy working during office hours. Every one is relaxed and you have a chance to get closer to co-workers on a personal level.

  2. Tiffany Says:

    Presh,
    That’s a great idea. Any time you can interact professionally in a more casual environment – and keep your head about you! – is great for your career. Just make sure you limit your drinks so you are clear-headed and professional, and this is a great way to showcase your personality to upper management.


  3. This is such interesting advice Tiffany, because on the surface, I think I disagree. I think that the best way to start a conversation is to be really interested in what the other person has to say.

    On the other hand, to be honest, Ryan, Ryan and I talk about you all the time, and when we do, we marvel at your confidence and your continuous flow of good ideas. So in fact, your advice about how to start a conversation seems right on target.

  4. Tiffany Says:

    Penelope,
    I definitely get what you are saying – and I believe you have to be able to balance and let conversations grow beyond what your initial point is – this post and our subsequent conversation about my initial point is a wonderful example of that, as blogging is in general.

    And being a conversation hog (or not having the ability to listen) is a great way to turn people off of your personality, so listening and humility go hand in hand for being a conversation starter to really work for you.

    But I believe it’s critical to learn to put yourself out there in a way that isn’t egotistical but instead is vulnerable. After all, someone has to start conversations, or else, they would never happen, right, in a very fundamental way. But then the really successful people are those who can both start conversations and listen to what other people have to say at the same time.

  5. Ryan Paugh Says:

    I often start conversations with something completely arbitrary. Once I get a grip on the personality, it’s easy to communicate in a matter that makes them interested in what you have to say.

    Then again, sometimes you can be too arbitrary and turn the person off from completely. I’ve done that before too.

    I think the most important point you bring up is the confidence aspect. You can’t be insecure because there will be failures. You have to be ready for that and not let it bring you down.

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