In order to find success, an entrepreneur must be resourceful, and juggle many hats. He, or she, must possess many skills, ranging in complexity and purpose. You’ll have to master basic skills like time management, but also more complex ones that only develop through experience. There is one basic skill that goes overlooked but is highly valuable to all entrepreneurs, especially as your try to grow your network. The art of conversation may come to some naturally, but others will have some difficulty sparking conversations in new situations. Becoming a master of conversation is more complex than learning to express yourself concisely, but once you’ve honed in on your weaknesses, you can works towards strengthening your skills.
Being a strong conversationalist will be helpful in a variety of experiences, especially in the context of business leadership. For example, you will need to pitch your business plan to potential investors, and persuade them to invest in you and your business, or you may need your skills when securing and servicing your first few clients. You will need these skills as you start building your team, and you’ll use them to carry your team with your leadership. Collecting feedback from your clients and team will also be vital in growing your business. Unfortunately, there is no course, or workshop, you can take to improve your conversational skills but below you will find some tips for improving these skills.
1) Pay Attention
First off, recognize that a conversation is an interaction between at least two people, so you will need to pay attention. When you are chatting with someone, don’t just wait for your next opportunity to speak. You should be listening thoroughly to the other person, and reflecting on their thoughts. Paying attention will help you understand, and respond to the other person.
2) Ask Open-Ended Questions
If you want to prompt more conversation, you should ask more questions, but make sure you ask thoughtful open-ended questions. This will allow the other person to provide you with more meaningful input, instead of definitive a “yes” or “no.”
3) Let the conversation be natural.
Let the conversation take its natural course, don’t force or stifle it by interrupting with thoughts as they pop into your mind. You should be trying to keep the conversation active, so avoid breaking the flow that could lead to new discoveries or perspectives.
4) Skip minor details.
Your ability to be concise will make the words you chose more meaningful. Concision will also help you keep the conversation on track as you avoid unnecessary details.
It takes time to become a better conversationalist, but like with other skills, practice makes perfect. Don’t be afraid to spark conversations with strangers, they will help you build this skill, and you may learn other things too. For more about becoming a stronger conversationalist, see Forbes.