Johnny One Note

Today’s Question:  What do you do if, while trying to engage someone in conversation, they will only give you one-word answers to every question you ask?

Nobody wants to endure the pain and frustration of having to pull words out of someone in a networking interaction.  Plus, when you are at a networking event, it is best to maximize your time with meaningful conversations that result in fodder for long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.  As such, try out these tips:

  • Ask open-ended questions. Try to ask questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” response.  Perhaps, “What brings you here?” or “Where did you go on your last vacation?” or “What do you love most about your work?” could be good starting points.
  • Be prepared to answer the question yourself. Let’s say you ask, “What do you think of this venue?”  No matter the response, you might be prepared with, “I just love this facility.  The way they are able to accommodate an event like this is impressive.”  Essentially, if the person you are trying to visit with is not capable of carrying the conversation, you should be ready to.
  • Have patience. Sometimes people freeze up or feel uncomfortable in networking situations.  If you show genuine interest in them and indicate a willingness to get to know them, you may be able to get them to relax, open up and engage.
  • Inject a little humor. One great way to break the ice is through the use of comedy.  If the moment is right, a well-timed, respectful, audience-appropriate joke might be just the thing to get people smiling, laughing and participating, all at once!
  • When all else fails, move on. If you’ve given it an honest try and the person is just not engaging, it might be time for you to bring someone else into the conversation or find another person to talk with entirely.

Do you have a tried and true way to get people talking beyond one-word responses?  Please take a moment to share your ideas.

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