Ten Questions to Help You Start a Conversation

“In conversation, humor is worth more than wit and easiness more than knowledge” -George Herbert

How to Start a Conversation

Have you ever been introduced to someone but did not know how to start the conversation? Ever experience that awkward moment of silence not knowing what to say or worse, waiting for the other person to say something interesting?

No worries. Most of us have felt this way, especially at conferences and large conventions. Here are a couple of tips I’ve picked up over the years that you may find helpful.

First, keep in mind that a conversation is like a journey with the speakers going from one place to another. As with every journey, you must first learn how to take the first step and also figure out which direction you’ll be traveling.

An approach that’s worked well for me is similar to an approach I use when picking a jury during trial. Remember, I’m talking to 12 people I’ve never met before, and it’s my job to get everyone to talk about themselves so that I can learn more who my ultimate decision makers are. I need to know what they’re thinking and what makes them tick. To do anything less would be a disservice to my client.

I use the open-ended questions below to get the dance going. By the way, don’t try and use all these questions with the same person and at the same time. Instead, think of these questions as though they are ten arrows in your relationship quiver.

Learn these questions, and you can easily reach back in your mind and pull out the one question that’s perfect for your next ice-breaking opportunity. Remember, different questions apply to different situations so be careful with how and when you use them.

Hint- to develop rapport with the other person, it takes a bit more than just asking these questions. For example, after you ask your question, pay attention and be genuinely interested in the other person’s answer. Listen 70% of the time, make eye contact and smile.

Also make sure to use these questions in a natural and conversational fashion. Let the discussion flow and follow up the other person’s answers with new related questions. Nobody likes to be interrogated so let your human side shine through during the conversation.

So let’s get started. You’ve just be introduced to someone or, you’ve just walked into a room and are approached by a complete stranger.

1. What do you do for a living? How did you get started?

People enjoy talking about themselves so give them a chance to do just that. Let them share their story with you. Listen and learn more about the other person.

2. What do you enjoy most about your business or profession?

I like always to be specific when I ask this question. If the person I’m talking to is an author, I’ll ask something like, “What do you enjoy most about being an author?” or maybe, “What did you enjoy most about writing your new book, “Overnight Success?” as opposed to, “What do you like about your occupation?” See the difference?

Again, it’s a question that elicits a good, positive feeling. It will also get the conversation moving forward.

3. What separates you and your company from the competition?

This is a permission-to-brag question, and the answer will help you learn what the other person believes is special about her business. Again, be as specific as you can with “company” and “competition”. Sometimes this question may include not a company but an activity or charitable cause. Either way, this approach works very well.

4. What advice would you give someone just starting in the ABC business?

This is a mentor type of question. We all like to be perceived as experts in our field so let the other person shine a bit and possibly share some pearls of wisdom with you. [tip- when he or she answers this question, ask a follow-up open-ended question. For example, “That’s interesting, why is that so important?”]

5. What one thing would you do with your business (or life, interest) if you knew you could not fail?

This is a great way to find out what the other person’s true interest is. What are her dreams and goals?

6. What significant changes have you seen take place in your business or profession throughout the years?

This is a great question for someone a few years older than you. They’ve put in their time and usually enjoy sharing their opinions and stories.

7. What do you see as the coming trends in your business or profession?

This question asks the other person to speculate on the future. Think about this. Isn’t this a question that’s normally reserved for important guests on television shows like CNN? If the person happens to be an expert, you just might learn something from the answer. In any case, you’ll probably make them feel good about themselves just by asking the question.

8. Describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business or profession?

People love sharing war stories so here’s their chance. Most people don’t get the chance to share these stories, and now you’ve volunteered to be their audience.

9. What ways have you found to be the most effective way to help others or to promote your business or profession (or issue you’re discussing)?

You’ll not only get good ideas to help you move forward with a project or business need, but you’ll also find out how this person thinks.

10. What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business or practice your profession?

You’ve just asked a question that most people are never asked. The other person’s answer will reveal quite a bit. They’ll also appreciate the fact that you care.

Conclusion

Use one or two of these ten questions to get your next conversation going in the right direction. Care about who you’re talking with and what they’re saying.

Be sincere and genuine. Make eye contact and stop looking down at your smartphone.

Finally and most importantly, enjoy the new relationship you just started!

Guest Lecture at Chapman University

I had a blast guest lecturing in the Chapman University classroom of Professor Niklas Myhr aka “The Social Media Professor.” We talked about social media, marketing, law and being an entrepreneur and the Q&A with Professor Myhr and his students was priceless!

On a side note, every time I speak and interact with today’s high school and college students, I consistently walk away from the experience knowing that the future of our country is good hands. These young adults are going to do amazing things. I hope each and everyone of them stays in contact!

Just in case you’re interested, click the picture below or here to watch Professor Myhr’s Facebook Live video.

#ActionJackson Tip of the Day!

 

Each day I share 30 years of legal, business, and entrepreneurial tips with you in what I call my #ActionJackson Tip of the Day!

Most tips are presented in short 30-60 second video clips on Twitter @MitchJackson (click here). Every now and then I’ll share the video clips on social media and my websites.

Today I shared the following tips about your legal rights when it comes to searches of your smartphone by police and Border Protection Agents. Hope you find this information useful. If so, please share with your family and friends. Also follow me on social at Mitch.Social

Related Post (excellent article)

Can Border Agents Search Your Electronic Devices? It’s Complicated.

What Are Your Privacy Rights with Amazon Echo and Google Home?

 

For years, police and lawyers have been using items found in your home, pursuant to probable cause and a valid court issued search warrant, as admissible evidence in court. To think that for some reason, information residing on your Amazon Echo or Google Home is excluded from this general rule is naive.

Just like before, your right to privacy, First Amendment Rights of free speech, and your protection against unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of our US Constitution will continue to exist. And just like before, the rules protecting your rights and requiring lawyers to lay a proper foundation and authentication before using such evidence in a court of law will also continue to protect your rights.

However, if sufficient grounds exist, what you asked Echo or Home, and what is now stored in the cloud at Amazon and Google, is going to be discoverable. While I do believe there are well-established evidence code exceptions (such as the marital privilege we have in California),  I do anticipate California case law to expand to include this new cloud-based “digital” evidence as part of what can be discovered by litigants, under the right circumstances, in a California civil or criminal case.

Legal Tip: When discussing business or anything else that you would like to keep confidential, unplug your Echo or Home and do so far away from your unit (and for that matter, any other type of potential listening device).

Related

Several weeks ago I was interviewed on a podcast that discussed this very issue. You can click here to listen to not only my thoughts, but also those of Jared Correia and Louise Leduc Kennedy.

Along those same lines, this recent post by Brian Heater does an excellent job of explaining what you need to know, as a consumer and business person, about your privacy and this new technology.

 

 

SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER LIABILITY

Streaming Lawyer Influencer LiabilityWhat Influencers Need To Know and Do When Recommending Someone Else’s Products or Services!

When an influencer recommends another person or promotes, shares or sells a third party’s products or services, she may be exposing herself to liability. This concept also applies to influencers who appear to be representing a product or service by their endorsement or “taking over” a person or company’s social media account.

Before we get started, please keep in mind that although I am a lawyer licensed to practice law in California, I’m not your lawyer. No legal advice is given in this article, and you should consult a qualified lawyer in your state with your questions or needs.

Having gotten that little California State Bar requirement out of the way, I’d like to share the following thoughts with you. This is a complicated and developing area of the law. Conflict of law issues together with new court holdings make it important for influencers to stay on top of these legal issues. With this in mind, I hope you find value in this post.

Recommendations of People, Products, and Services

You are an influencer who is asked to recommend or use a third party’s products or services.

While each case is different, under both State and Federal law, anyone who recommends another person or company’s product or service, can potentially be held legally responsible for damages sustained by an end user. If someone in your audience reasonably relies upon your recommendation and suffers harm because of negligence or even an intentional act such as fraud by the client who hired you, then the victim(s) could potentially point the finger at you for making that recommendation. Theories of liability differ in each state but may include negligence, fraud, breach of express and implied warranty and defective product theories including strict liability. Special, general and even punitive damages may be available to victims showing harm, damages, and losses.

Continue reading “SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER LIABILITY”

95 Experts Reveal Their 3 “Must-Do’s” for Solopreneur Success

My friend, Mike Allton, just shared this new post that offers massive value to anyone interested in becoming a successful Solopreneur. I’m honored to be part of it.

Click here to enjoy Mike’s post.

Click here or below to watch Mike’s recent episode on TheShow.live 😉