How to Improve Your Communication Skills to Network Effectively

    

We’re all drawn to interesting people. Here’s how to improve your communication skills and become the most interesting person in the room.

Start with this three-step opening:

  • Simultaneously hold out your hand, smile, and introduce yourself with your first name only—nothing more.
  • Use Dynamic Silence™. Let them react. Wait for them to give their first name.
  • While smiling, ask them: “What about (one-second pause) what you do makes you passionate?”

Here’s your fourth follow-on step: Mirror™ and Label™ from this point on, using Dynamic Silence liberally. This is a version of the one-on-ones we use as the foundation for mastery of the Black Swan Method™—also known as the quick 2+1.

How to Improve Your Communication Skills to Network Effectively

The Quick 2+1™  Goes to Hollywood

I used this approach at a Hollywood party in LA a couple of years ago. There was an evidently well-known movie producer in the room. I say “evidently” because although I had no idea who he was (I am happily oblivious to that kind of stuff), everyone else there was fawning over him, trying to impress him with flattery, and so on. 

After everyone else was done, I used The Black Swan Quick 2+1™, and we had a 20-minute conversation (about five times longer than anyone else). And at the end, he said: “Wow.  I haven’t told anyone that stuff in over 20 years.”

The Black Swan team does this when we teach you The Quick 2+1™  in our training. We love doing this with companies because the typical response from colleagues who have been together for many years is: “Wow! We’ve worked together for over seven years, and I just found out more about him in three minutes than I did in all that time.”

5 Reasons the Quick 2+1™ Works

Let’s break this down so you can see the dynamic and why this works.

  • It isn’t the typical groveling flattery.
  • You avoid the impression that you are a “user” type, meaning that you’re only interested in people who can help you. You’re focused on what excites them about what they do—not what they do.
  • You’re memorable—but in a quiet, subtle way that garners trust.
  • You develop a rapport and gather information about them quickly.
  • You aren’t being the loudest or most visible person in the room.

In fact, the most important people in the room are the quietest. They lay back, watch other interactions, and look for the loudest, most buffoonish people. Then, they avoid those people. 

Does your negotiation strategy fit their personality? Use this guide to  negotiate successfully with anyone »

A Breakdown of Implementation

Next time you find yourself at a corporate mixer—or a Hollywood cocktail party for that matter—follow this guide to become the most interesting person in the room.

1. State Your First Name

Give them your first name, and do so while smiling and holding out your hand. In doing this, you give them less information to remember. You also want to be remembered by one name—think Kanye, Beyoncé, Madonna, Oprah, and Adele.

2. Let Them React

Give them a moment for the gentle, pleasant first impression of you to sink in. When they give their first name back, they’ve accepted your invitation of reciprocity under their terms. They don’t feel intruded on. 

If and only if they don’t fill the silence, proceed to step three. If they do fill the silence, let them lead and segue into step three at your earliest opportunity. 

Remember, the more you talk about yourself, the more you blend in with every other opportunist and the less unique you appear. 

3. Ask the Question

This is when you ask, “What about (one-second pause) what you do makes you passionate?” The pause is a great way to catch their focus even more.

4. Label™ and Mirror™ from Here  

Look for insights. Label those. Mirror things that sound interesting to you—the things you don’t quite understand or suspect will lead to a deeper conversation.

When do you get to talk about yourself?  

In your second conversation. If it’s a fit, the opportunity will come to you. If not? You’ve probably just given that person one of the best conversations they’ve had that day—following the rule of leaving people better than you found them.  

Bottom line? Use Black Swan skills to network like a boss and be the most interesting person in the room! Want to learn more about how to improve your communication skills? Click below.

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Chris Voss

About The Author

Christopher Voss is the CEO of The Black Swan Group, a firm that solves business negotiation problems with hostage negotiation strategies. Chris founded the Black Swan Group, in 2008 upon his retirement from the FBI where he was the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. Chris is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business where he teaches business negotiation in both M.B.A. programs.