There comes a time when not talking about your business sells more of your business. It’s called listening. It’s also about asking the right questions.
Every time you meet someone new, they could become a customer/client. You need to treat each opportunity as a chance to meet, learn about and help that person.
A long time ago I learned about an acronym FORM.
Family, Occupation Recreation and Message.
The way FORM works is by striking up a conversation with someone and using one of the four letters as a guide for what topics to discuss. Here is an example of how you might use F.O.R.M. in your next conversation. Imagine that you just met someone at an event. As you both are waiting for drinks, start with this:
You: LOVE that bag! Where did you get them from?
Note: Notice that I started with a compliment? Paying someone a compliment is always a great way to break the ice. However, it is important to be sincere. Don’t compliment someone if you don’t truly feel that way.
Them: Oh, yeah! Thanks. Winners.
You: Really. How much did you get them for?
Them: Originally going for $200, but I bought these for $99.
You: Wow! That is AMAZING. I’m going to need to learn from you how to shop. (Laugh)
You: So, where are you from?
Note: I just moved from a compliment over to the first letter (F).
Them: I’m from London. You?
You: I’m from Woodstock. Who do you know from London?
Them: I know tons of people…(this could go on for a while)
Note: For the sake of this example, let me move on to the next letter (O).
You: So, what do you do for a living?
Them: I’m an interior designer.
You: Nice! How did you get into that line of work?
Them: (They respond with a story)
Note: Continuing with the conversation, I’ll move on to the letter (R).
You: So, what do you do for fun?
Them: I like to shop obviously, but I am really into paddle boarding these days!
You: Wow! I’ve always wanted to try that (Ask another question here)
Note: At this point, you should see how it works. Since I’ve gone through each letter, let me finish with (M). For those interested in the conversation, topic, or person, this is probably when you’d say something about staying in contact. Remember, we are at an event, so this conversation can only be so long. However, if you find that you do want to keep it going, moving to “M” is a great way to stay connected.
You: Listen, I’m heading out soon to check on the kids. I am really interested in hearing more about paddle boarding. Would it be okay to exchange numbers so I can hear more about it?
What do you think? Easy enough, right?
For some, this may take some practice. The good news is that you can do this with people you don’t know and people you know well. It’s just a strategy for connecting with someone quickly and painlessly.
To help understand how easy this strategy is in building relationships with people, review the list of example questions that one can ask during a casual conversation.
Where are you from?
Where did you go to high school or college?
How many kids do you have? What are their names and ages?
Are you married? What is your spouse’s name?
What kind of work do you do?
What do you like about your job?
What do you like least about your job?
How long have you been working there?
How did you get started in that field?
What kind of things do you do for fun?
Where would you like to vacation if money was not required?
What are some of your favourite places in the world?
What do you do to relieve stress?
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?
Once you have built rapport with someone, the message portion of F.O.R.M. is really your transition toward booking a meeting from a meeting. Assuming that you like the person that you’re talking with, and you actually want to stay in contact with them, use one of the following statements to reconnect.
A good way to transition may be like this, “I couldn’t help but overhear that you [dont’ like your job, need more money, or want to vacation more], let me ask you a question…[use one of the questions below]”
Do you mind if we exchange numbers and talk more about it?
Are you open to the idea of earning some extra money part time?
Are you open to the idea of traveling more for less?
If I found a way to [fill in the blank], would you want to know about it?
While for those in the sales industry may find the message portion quite valuable, the message can be simply used to reconnect on a personal (not business) level. For personal, simply exchange numbers or figure out how the two of you can connect again.
Secret Sauce: Listening
While FORM may have gained popularity in the sales industry, the strategy is just as relevant in life. The key to success in talking with anyone is to be an active listener.
What is an active listener? It’s when you ask questions and actually take part in listening to the answer. Instead of using a question to impose your will and story upon them, take a moment to understand what the other person is sharing. The next question you ask should be built on what the other person just said.
It is important to understand that shooting off questions without giving a piece of your story can feel like an interrogation. So, get good at finding that balance between talking all the time, listening all the time, and a real conversation (ebb and flow of ideas).
If you need help with growing your business message me anytime firstname.lastname@example.org