It's not about me – it's all about YOU!
May 12-16 is National Small Business Week. This annual spotlight on small businesses began in 1963. It recognizes the essential contributions of America's entrepreneurs and small business owners. Every day, they're working to grow small businesses, drive innovation, increase America's global competitiveness, and jobs. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.
A small business owner must have hundreds maybe even thousands of sales conversations over the course of a year in order grow their business. So there are plenty of opportunities for authentic connections, shared insights and the occasional foot-in-mouth moment. Here are a few ways to ensure you're connecting and putting your best foot forward – instead of in your mouth.
Make the conversation about the other person
The need to be heard is one of the most powerful motivating forces in human nature. The first instinct is to share what we know, think or care about instead of putting the focus on the person we're talking to.
When you make the conversation all about you, others may think you're clever, but you won't learn anything about them or build their trust. You'll miss the opportunity to build the foundation for an authentic, mutually beneficial relationship.
So the next time you're talking to someone and realize you've "lost" them – they're fidgeting, stopped asking questions, or maybe sneaking glances around the room, pause and ask this question: What do you think is the most important thing…. (Fill in the blank based on whom you're talking to.)
When you do that, you'll change the course of the conversation. You'll connect with what really matters to them—and the conversation that follows will help you learn more about how you can help each other succeed. You always want to be known as someone who's interested in the other person's priorities and goals. When you spend time together on issues that are truly important to both parties, the relationship deepens and grows.
Now, about those moments when you open you mouth and insert your foot. Interactions get off on the wrong foot. Someone gets angry or offended or just shuts down. It happens to all of us but with a little practice you can turn things around in the moment.
Salvage a disastrous conversation
Picture this: You meet a business owner you've been dying to connect with. You know you can help them. You know that they could be a very profitable contact for you. So your adrenaline kicks in and you start talking.
"I'm so glad to meet you! I offer business owners the competitive edge. If you check out my site you'll see testimonials from other people I've worked with and the results that they see…."
Hopefully at some point it will dawn on you that you just steamrolled right over this person and failed get to know anything about them before jumping in with your pitch. But what do you do to turn things around?
Apologize and sincerely ask, "Do you mind if we start over?"
People are forgiving. They want to have a great conversation with you. Asking, "Do you mind if we start over?" will disarm the other person and quite possibly make them smile. Your willingness to admit that you got off on the wrong foot will go a long way toward building trust.
Business interactions are human interactions. Asking questions and listening will lead to more vibrant and meaningful conversations. They make people like you, trust you, and want to build relationships with you.
Remember: In order to capture another person's attention you have to give them yours!
Have you ever started off on the wrong foot and turned the situation around? Tell us about it!
Edited by Melinda Thomas. More at www.melindathomascreative.com